HC Deb 05 July 2004 vol 423 c531
1. Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North) (Lab)

If he will make a statement on the consequences for his Department of recent trends in unemployment in Nottingham, North. [181887]

The Minister for Work (Jane Kennedy)

The UK has one of the best labour markets in the world. We now have just over 28 million people in employment, which is more than ever before. We also have the best combination of employment and unemployment figures of the major industrialised countries and, as a result, my hon. Friend's constituency has experienced a 44 per cent. fall in unemployment since 1997.

Mr. Allen

I thank my right hon. Friend for those statistics, and urge her to keep unemployment on the agenda. The Government's success in tackling unemployment is in danger of knocking it off the agenda, when we should be celebrating that success. Does she accept, however, that there is a law of diminishing returns: the more we conquer unemployment, the harder it is to get those who remain unemployed back into work? Will she therefore look at the action teams for jobs and at the possibility of devolving authority from employment centres right down to our estates by deploying individuals to those estates who know the people and who can tailor the service to get the people who find it hardest to get jobs back into employment?

Jane Kennedy

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that comment, and for the close interest that he takes in this subject. Despite the success of our labour market policies, we are not complacent and we know that there is more to be done to help those groups of people—and the areas that he has rightly identified—who need extra support. He rightly draws attention to the work of the action team for jobs in Nottingham, which, with the employment zone, has helped more than 1,700 people into work.