Grayling hits back at Labour claims
Employment Minister Chris Grayling has branded Labour "downright disingenuous" over claims that the number of long-term unemployed people has doubled since the General Election.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said the Government should "come clean" and release all data associated with the programme to open it up for scrutiny.
But Mr Grayling said that Labour had hidden the true level of long-term unemployment by not including people who were on a Training Allowance as part of their Flexible New Deal programme.
At a press briefing he explained:
"While you were on the Training Allowance you did not show up in the unemployment figures, so, effectively unemployment beyond the 12 month point for young people just disappeared. When you finished your period on the Training Allowance and you finished your time on the New Deal and went back on Jobseeker's Allowance, if you were unemployed your claim was counted as starting again on day one.
"So, the figures would say, this person has been unemployed for a day. Now palpably that’s not true, you’d have been unemployed for 12 months, you’d have done 13 weeks of the New Deal and then you were back onto JSA, you’d have been unemployed at that point for 15 months, but the figures would have said you’d been unemployed for one day."
Mr Grayling also welcomed what he called a "promising start" to the Work Programme, with new DWP data showing that 24% of those who started the programme in June 2011 had completed at least three successive months off benefits.
While he acknowledged the statistics were not yet conclusive, he said it looked as though it was "so far, so good".
But there was bad news for the Government, with a key job index showing conditions in the labour market worsening. The KPMG jobs survey showed the number of permanent job placements fell at its sharpest rate in almost three years.