Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Harman and Clegg clash over youth unemployment

Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman have clashed over help for the young unemployed, during deputy prime minister's questions.

On 15 November 2011, Ms Harman said there had been a "shocking" increase in the number of young people out of work, telling MPs of a 93% rise in London and 200% increase in Warrington since May.

The shadow deputy PM said that because of the government's policies the economy was too weak and programs to help the young unemployed were too small, and called for "further, urgent action" to tackle youth unemployment.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accepted that more needed to be done but pointed out that the rate of youth unemployment had increased "pretty remorselessly" since 2004, with a "40% increase" under Labour.

"So there are some very big problems we need to look at," he said, informing MPs that he hoped to make some announcements before the autumn statements.

But Harriet Harman argued that youth long-term unemployment was decreasing when Labour left office and at its lowest level before the recession.

She said rising unemployment made it harder to pay down the deficit and asked the deputy PM why the government had "cut work programs by a third and closed job centres".

"We expect it from the Tories… but how on earth can the Liberal Democrats be prepared to go along with this?" she demanded to know.

Mr Clegg told her that the number of Neets - not in education, employment or training - had increased by 50% under Labour, asking: "Is that a record she is proud of?"

He listed a number of policies as evidence of the government's help for young people out of working, including a "new network" of technical colleges, and added that there would be 250,000 more apprentices under the coalition than under a Labour government.

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