PMQs: Ding-dong over youth unemployment

The focus of the Cameron v Miliband this week exchange was the new figure of one million unemployed young people. It started with a battle between the government’s Work Programme versus Labour’s Future Jobs Fund. Miliband blamed the Work Programme for increasing Youth Unemployment:

…in June, when the Work programme was introduced, 85,000 young people had been unemployed for more than six months; now, there are 133,000—a massive increase since he introduced the Work programme.

But Cameron countered with figures saying that:

The Work programme is helping 50% more people than the future jobs fund: it will help 120,000 young people this year, where the future jobs fund helped only 80,000.

Cameron said that youth unemployment increased by 40% under Labour, starting in 2004.

…A bit of a score draw that.

Why doesn’t he take up the idea of Labour’s bonus tax? – Miliband asked. Cameron had a very effective answer to that:

He has used his bonus tax for higher tax credits; giving child benefit to those on the highest rates of tax; cutting the deficit; spending on public services; more money for the regional growth fund—that is when he is defending it rather than attacking it; turning empty shops into cultural community centres; and higher capital spending. This is the bank tax that likes to say yes. No wonder the shadow Chancellor has stopped saluting and started crying.

Miliband retorted with the accusation that Cameron:

…is the one cutting taxes for the banks year on year in the course of this Parliament. That is the reality. He is creating a lost generation of young people, and he knows it. It is his responsibility; it is happening on his watch.

Cameron said that the government is introducing the bank levy which will raise more every year, allegedly, than Labour’s bonus tax in one year.

Miliband read out an optimistic quote from Cameron from June 2010, saying all his predictions then of higher growth, lower inflation and falling unemployment have not come true. Ah but, we’re doing better than most of Europe, said Cameron.

In the exchange, Miliband probably didn’t do as well as he should have done. He’s got something of an open goal on the economy these days, but Cameron always manages to keep his head above water in these debates.

There was much mention of the forthcoming public sector strike. I noticed that there was no call, this time, for parents to teach in classes when the strike is on. But instead, the PM’s idea is now for parents to take children to work. When is the government going to stop making such inane suggestions?

Mature question of the week

Chris Bryant (Labour) asked a remarkably dignified question as follows:

The personal damage caused by long-term unemployment can be phenomenal. On average, somebody who is unemployed for more than six months is six times more likely to contract a serious mental health problem. Does the Prime Minister not worry that we will have a generation of young people who will suffer many of the problems of lack of self-esteem and of never having a first job? Would it not make more sense to guarantee every under 24-year-old a job after six months’ unemployment, thus paying them to work, not paying them benefits?

LibDem question:

Alan Reid asked about the cuts to the Ministry of Defence Police budget and “possible implications for security at the nuclear bases at Faslane and Coulport” in his constituency of Argyll and Bute.

Tribute to Pudsey Bear

The Prime Minister paid tribute to Pudsey Bear for all the money he has raised for Children in Need. This was in response to a question from Conservative MP Stuart Andrew. I am almost too embarrassed to mention which constituency Mr Andrew represents.

Oh all right then. It’s Pudsey. [Squirms]

Paul Walter blogs at Liberal Burblings

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This entry was posted in PMQs.


  • Let us be clear the announcement by Clegg today on a £1b fund to be given to any employer who takes on an unemployed employee between the ages of 18-24 is simply corporatism at its finest.

    Are we letting Tesco / Poundstretcher and Asda write the legislation?

    All this is is a direct £1b subsidy to large businesses who are already taking advantage of the “work experience” scheme to get free staff.

    I despair of the corporate takeover of all 3 major political parties.

  • Old Codger Chris 26th Nov '11 - 12:59pm

    I think Timak is being unfair. How does HE suggest we tackle the huge problem of youth unemployment?

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