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Chris Grayling fights back over Labour's record on youth unemployment - half a million jobless pupils

by Paul Goodman

GRAYLING CHRIS NW It's a working day of the week.  The labour market figures will be out.  You're the Employment Minister - so you know that they'll record a rise in unemployment.  There's an Opposition Day debate in the Commons  What do you do?

What most Ministers do is to try to disappear behind their file or into their red box.  But not Chris Grayling, the Minister in question.  What he did this morning - and he does it repeatedly - is to look at Labour's record, get the figures and give them out: in other words, try to turn the media spotlight back on the Opposition.

Which he did today with some success.  The Sun reported this morning that more than half a million pupils who left school or college under Labour have never had a job - and that the number kept rising every time Labour won.  Here are the details, as published by the DWP -

  • 300,000 young people who have left school or college since 2007 and have never held down a job;
  • 200,000 young people who left school or college between 2002 and 2006 and have never held down a job; 
  • 100,000 young people who left school or college between 1997 and 2001 and have never held down a job.
Grayling's also taken the chance to trumpet the the Work Programme - described by David Cameron today at PMQs as "the largest welfare to work programme the UK has seen since the 1930s"  A single programme, it will be delivered by a mix of private and voluntary sector providers.

It will aim to help not just people who are temporarily out of work, but those who are long-term unemployed -  the almost five million people on out of work benefits, including those on long-term sickness benefits.  The providers will be paid to get and keep people in work "entirely by results".

Now the Employment Secretary's scarcely likely to talk down his own scheme.  But I was struck by the degree to which the DWP's put its cards on the table, at least in the sense of predicting the number of people who will go through the programme -

2011/12 – 605,000
2012/13 – 565,000
2013/14 – 510,000
2014/15 – 395,000
2015/16 – 335,000

I'm puzzled by how few Ministers do what Grayling does - namely, look back at the last Government's record on their department (after all, it was was in place less than a year ago), compile a dossier, and then put it out.  He's an example to follow in that respect.

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