Since my appointment as Minister for Employment, one of the fixed points in my diary is the publication of the monthly employment figures. They are published on a Wednesday at 9.30am and exactly 24 hours in advance we get a copy of them.
I have now done three sets of figures. Each has shown an increase in the number of people in work and a fall in the number of unemployed. Whilst this is good news for those getting a new job, I also know that there are hundreds of thousands of people who haven’t.
What I have found in this role is that the majority of people who claim Job Seekers’ Allowance come off benefits within a matter of months. Because they have the right skills and experience, they don’t need much help from Jobcentre Plus. So we can focus our help on those who are unlikely to move back into work quickly.
As well as the excellent work Jobcentre Plus can do, we have launched the Work Programme to give targeted support to those who have been out of work for over 12 months. My new job is challenging, but so rewarding when we manage to get people into work.