In questions to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I asked which Government entered into the contrat with ATOS in the first place.
Charlie: The Minister said that the WCA problems were long-standing. Is there a process whereby the last Government's figures could be made available to the House? Who entered into the Atos contract?
Mike Penning (Minister for Disabled People): There is no doubt that the Atos contract was taken out by the last Labour Administration. I would love to know exactly what the backlog was, but, as an incoming Minister, I am not allowed to see the figures. Perhaps Her Majesty's Opposition would be happy to release them. If those documents were published, we would all know exactly what the backlog was before the present Administration came to power.
I also asked about Government help to get more long-term unemployed people into work.
Charlie: What impact has the Government's long-term plan had on long-term unemployment, and what representations have the Government received on long-term unemployment from the Opposition?
Esther McVey (Minister for Employment): I thank my hon. Friend for asking that question because we have seen the biggest annual fall in long-term unemployment since 1998—108,000 fewer people on long-term benefits. That is a significant change. When we came into office we said that we would help those whom the Labour Government left behind and forgot about. We have set up the Work programme and other schemes, and the consequences are more of them in work.
It has been an honour and privilege to serve as Member of Parliament for Dover & Deal. I hope to be re-elected to serve our community for another term.
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