HC Deb 21 March 2001 vol 365 cc234-5W
Mr. Dawson

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out, with statistical information relating as directly as possible to the Lancaster and Wyre constituency, the effect on Lancaster and Wyre of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [154683]

Miss Melanie Johnson

Lancaster and Wyre, 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 590. or 33 per cent., youth unemployment is down by 74 per cent., and long-term unemployment has fallen by 66 per cent.

Macroeconomic stability is being complemented at the microeconomic level by the Government's policies to ease the transition from welfare into work and to make work pay. To the end of December 2000, the New Deal for 18 to 24-year-olds had helped 596 young people in the Lancaster and Wyre constituency gain valuable skills and experience—327 (55 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, around 1,500 families in the constituency were benefiting from WFTC.

The Government are also committed to policies which enable pensioners to share in the country's rising prosperity. All pensioners, including 22,100 in Lancaster and Wyre, 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 aged 75 or over have also been entitled to a free TV licence since November 2000—including around 14,400 in Lancaster and Wyre.