Commons debate on UK unemployment

11 March 2009

House of Commons debates Opposition motion and Government amendment on tackling unemployment.

Opposition motion:

Mr David Cameron, Mrs Theresa May, Mr James Clappison, Mr Mark Harper, Andrew Selous, Mr Patrick McLoughlin

That this House notes that unemployment rose by 146,000 to 1.97 million in the three months to December 2008, the highest level since August 1997, that the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance in January 2009 rose by 73,800 to 1.23 million, and that the number of vacancies in the UK fell by 76,000 in the three months to January 2009 to 504,000, the lowest figure since records began; further notes that unemployment among 18 to 24-year-olds was 616,000 in the three months to November, the highest total since 1995; further notes that the Government has failed to establish a national loan guarantee scheme to increase the flow of credit to businesses, and calls on the Government to establish such a scheme; further notes that the Government failed to introduce necessary welfare reform during the years of economic growth; further calls on the Government to relax the rules on jobseeker’s allowance to allow unemployed people rapidly to take up training opportunities; believes that the Government should immediately cut taxes for firms taking on new employees who have been unemployed for three months; notes with concern the failure of the procurement process for Flexible New Deal, and further calls on the Government not to backtrack on the use of the private and voluntary sectors in welfare-to-work provisions; and calls on the Department for Work and Pensions to expand the use of an ‘invest to save’ approach to welfare-to-work services, allowing the full potential of the expertise in these sectors to be realised.

Government amendment:

The Prime Minister, Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary James Purnell, Secretary Alan Johnson, Mr Secretary Woodward, Secretary John Denham, Secretary Paul Murphy, Secretary Jim Murphy, Mr Pat McFadden, Mr Tony McNulty

(b) Line 1, leave out from ‘House’ to end and add ‘notes that unemployment is rising in Britain and across the world; believes that unemployment is never a price worth paying and that as unemployment rises the amount of support that is offered should be increased; further notes that the Government is investing nearly £2 billion extra into giving additional assistance for the unemployed and that this will provide additional help to people losing their jobs, including a national rapid response service to react to redundancy situations, advice from day one of unemployment on skills and finding a job, assistance to pay mortgage bills to prevent people losing both their jobs and their homes, cash incentives for employers to recruit and train unemployed people, more training opportunities to help people back to work and more places on the New Deal employment programme; believes that it is preferable to invest millions into helping people now than to spend billions of pounds of public money on benefits in the future; further notes that in previous recessions the numbers on inactive benefits were allowed to increase dramatically; further believes that the mistakes of previous recessions must be avoided by investing now to prevent people becoming long-term unemployed today; and further believes that the Government should increase the support offered to people trapped on benefits by previous recessions.’.

Image: PA Photos

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