§ 4. Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore)
What assessment his Department has made of the effect the new deal has had on youth unemployment. 
§ 6. Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West)
If he will make a statement on his proposals to reform the new deal for the young unemployed. 
§ The Minister for Work (Mr. Nicholas Brown)
Since 1997, youth unemployment has fallen by 43 per cent. and long-term youth unemployment has been reduced by more than three-quarters. The new deal for young people has played an important part in that, helping more than 350,000 young people off benefit and into jobs, and improving the work prospects of many more.
We are building on the success of the new deal and are well advanced in making the improvements to the programme which we announced in last year's Green Paper, "Towards Full Employment". In the last three months, we have launched "progress2work" pathfinders, which provide help for unemployed drug misusers, and announced tailored pathway pilots to give personal advisers more flexibility to combine new deal options to suit the needs of the individual client. This month we are introducing StepUp pilots, which will provide transitional employment opportunities, and outreach initiatives to provide more effective support for people from ethnic minority communities.
§ Huw Irranca-Davies
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. The new deal programme and associated Government measures are undoubtedly turning round the despoliation of many years of Tory rule in Wales. 346 However, will he expand on the new deal's effect on the local and national economy because, surely, great savings are made if youngsters are in work?
§ Mr. Brown
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks, and I welcome him to Question Time—we hope to see him here again.
Every study on the new deal has confirmed that it adds substantially to the national economy. One way of looking at it is to consider that for every £5 that the Government spend, we get £3 back, either in social security expenditure that is no longer undertaken or in tax revenues.
§ Mr. Brown
The Conservative game has already been given away by the party's health spokesman. First, the Conservatives pretend that the Government's programmes are not working and that they can never work, and then they say that the provision should not be made at all or that it should be funded by insurance or by people's own resources. They then try to wrap that up—this is apparently the most difficult part—into a message that they can sell to the electorate. The electorate will say, "Under the Conservatives there were a third of a million young people out of work, and under Labour the figure is below 4,000."
§ Vernon Coaker (Gedling)
The new deal has been a tremendous success in tackling youth unemployment, and we should strongly congratulate the Government on that. In my constituency, many young people who previously languished on the dole are now in work. Many of the young people who are still unemployed have associated problems, such as physical disabilities, learning difficulties, drug abuse problems or, indeed, literacy and numeracy problems. In any development of the new deal, will my right hon. Friend ensure that advisers are supported with a package of measures to help such young people back into work?
§ Mr. Brown
We have two new pilot schemes. One is to look at greater flexibility, and the other of course is the StepUp pilot. They are designed to help those who have been through the new deal but not found work so far. This is a radical programme, and there are 20 pilots. The Government are, effectively, purchasing the job for the individual for a year. We are absolutely determined that nobody is left out or bypassed by the schemes. Everyone who can work should have the right to work, and the Government should help them do so.
§ Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere)
The Minister is not exactly being reckless in predicting that the hon. Member for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) will be in the House in future, but is he not being a little cavalier with the facts? Was not the National Audit Office right when it said that, to evaluate the new deal, it is necessary to take into account those who would have found jobs anyway? When that is done, did the NAO not find that the reduction in youth unemployment brought about by the new deal is not 350,000, as the Minister has just claimed, but 35,000. 347 and that the cost per job under the new deal is far greater than the Government have maintained? In fact, is the new deal not one more example of this Government taking and spending a great deal of taxpayers' money and not making much difference in return?
§ Mr. Brown
The hon. Gentleman rather confirms the accuracy of the answer that I gave the hon. Member for Altrincham and Sale, West (Mr. Brady). We can see what the Conservatives are about. The hon. Gentleman selectively quoted the National Audit Office report. Neither that report nor any other has said that the new deal is not value for money. There will always be an element of dead weight cost in these schemes. One might just as well argue that teaching children to read has a dead weight cost because some of them would learn to read anyway. That is a ridiculous argument. We are talking not about a job-creation project but employment schemes. 'They are serving our country, and in particular disadvantaged people. They are serving them well and are value for money too.
§ Mr. Peter Pike (Burnley)
The Minister knows that Burnley will have one of the StepUp programme pilots. What steps will be taken in that significant programme, which will be important to those who have not been able to gain employment, to publicise, particularly in the local and regional press, exactly what is being done?
§ Mr. Brown
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question and for the close interest that he has taken in the pilot scheme. It will—I hope—have an important impact on his constituency. It is the Government's intention to publicise the programme. Indeed, we intend formally to launch the pilots in the next few weeks. I will make sure that proper publicity is given locally, and I shall draw his remarks to the attention of those who are managing the scheme locally. It is a very significant new scheme. For the first time, the Government are saying that we guarantee a job for a year to someone who has found the labour market intractable so far. I think that that should be welcomed.