HC Deb 23 January 2001 vol 361 cc568-9W
Fiona Mactaggart

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Slough constituency, the effects on Slough of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [146935]

Miss Melanie Johnson

Slough parliamentary constituency, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, is benefiting from the long-term action we have taken to build economic stability and secure high and stable levels of growth and employment. Since the General Election, claimant unemployment in the constituency has fallen by 1,078, or 40 per cent.; youth unemployment is down by 83 per cent., and long-term unemployment has fallen by 73 per cent. The claimant count rate in December 2000 was only 2.1 per cent., well below the UK average.

Macro-economic stability is being complemented at the micro-economic level by the Government's policies to ease the transition from welfare into work and to make work pay. To the end of October 2000, the New Deal for 18 to 24-year-olds had helped 824 young people in the Slough constituency to gain valuable skills and experience—371 (45 per cent.) of whom had moved into employment. The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), introduced in October 1999, is helping to make work pay for low and middle-income families. In August 2000, 1,400 families in Slough constituency were benefiting from WFTC.

The Government are also committed to developing policies which enable all pensioners to share in the country's rising prosperity. As a result of the recent pre-Budget report, all pensioners, including 13,300 in the Slough constituency, will receive an above-inflation increase in the basic state pension from April 2001. Single pensioners will receive an extra £5 a week, and couples will receive an extra £8 a week. All pensioners age 75 or over have also been entitled to a free TV licence since November 2000—including around 8,000 in the Slough constituency.