HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 cc176-8
10. Mr. Spencer

asked the Paymaster General what is the total funding for the youth training scheme in England in the current financial year.

Mr. Trippier

We have made available £710 million for the youth training scheme in England in 1985–86. Including Scotland and Wales, total funding is £834 million.

Mr. Spencer

Is my hon. Friend aware of the Leicestershire employment and education project on Constitution hill in my constituency? That is a YTS project and provides basic training for disadvantaged young people from the inner area. It has a high success rate and has contributed to a reduction in unemployment in my constituency of some 6.2 per cent. since September 1984.

Mr. Trippier

I am pleased to learn that there has been such a significant fall in the level of unemployment in my hon. and learned Friend's constituency, and I am grateful to him for paying such a warm compliment to the Leicestershire employment and education project. As he suggests, there is now ample evidence, not only in his constituency but throughout the country, that the YTS is effective in providing for a real need.

Mr. Caborn

Is the Minister aware that in the inner cities there are major problems with YTS, particularly in the voluntary sector? Many people in the inner cities are worried about the new arrangements for funding and about their ability to provide the type of training that has hitherto been provided. Many people, particularly in the caring services, will not go into any type of training, and they will be a major problem, particularly for the inner cities. Will the Minister give consideration to representations from organisations such as NACRO and others?

Mr. Trippier

I will certainly give serious consideration to the point made by the hon. Gentleman and draw his remarks to the attention of the Manpower Services Commission. The number of premium places under the new scheme is designed to meet the needs of young people with particular training needs for whom employer-based places will not suffice. I told the hon. Gentleman that at a meeting that I had with him, but if he wishes to come back and explore the ground further, I shall be happy to do so.

Mr. Rowe

My hon. Friend knows that I am an enthusiastic supporter of the YTS. Will he accept that one of the ingredients in the demoralisation of school teachers is the feeling that a great deal of the work that they would otherwise do is being taken over by the training scheme? Will he give me an assurance that he will look carefully at closer liaison between schools and school teachers and people doing a similar job under a different budget with a different title in the youth training scheme?

Mr. Trippier

I can give my hon. Friend the assurance that he seeks in the second part of his question, but I am not sure that I agree with the first part. This is Industry Year, and it gives us a golden opportunity to improve links between industry and education, which perhaps should have been improved 30 years ago. As a result of the initiatives taken by the Department of Trade and Industry and followed by the Department in which I am a Minister I hope that the situation will improve. I do not accept that YTS courses are in any way displacing the work that should be carried out by the teaching profession.

Mr. Foot

Is it the case that part of the burden of the youth training scheme is being transferred to local authorities? Will the hon. Gentleman tell us exactly what the figure is? Does he realise that that is most unfair, because the heaviest burden falls on some of the local authorities that have the highest unemployment? Will he look at the whole of this proposition to make sure that the full burden of the funding is carried by central Government?

Mr. Trippier

The right hon. Gentleman is somewhat misled. The change of emphasis in YTS is to place more of a responsibility on employers rather than on local authorities. The principal reason for doing that is that they have a vested interest in the trainees who come out at the other end of the scheme. While I am on my feet, I can hardly miss the opportunity to refer to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman's constituency has seen a fairly dramatic fall in the level of unemployment over the last 12 months—8 per cent.

Dr. Mawhinney

Can my hon. Friend confirm that that part of the funding that goes to the young people is a training allowance and not a wage? Can he tell the House what he is doing to help the young people themselves understand that in the face of misleading propaganda, some of it coming from the Opposition Benches?

Mr. Trippier

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that point. It is, of course, an allowance and is not meant to be a wage. We are trying to increase awareness of that fact wherever we can, through publications and the production of videos. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for giving me an opportunity to say from this Box that that is correct.

Mr. Meadowcroft

Does the Minister recognise the excellent contribution made to the youth training scheme by voluntary bodies? Is he aware that the rules and the way that they are applied, particularly to the number of premium places mentioned earlier, are likely to mean that there will be no B1 schemes run by small voluntary bodies, and that those in Yorkshire with which that I am acquainted are already talking of closing? Will the Minister consider again the whole question of how the rules apply to smaller voluntary bodies which have been able to provide a variety of schemes, which the larger ones cannot provide?

Mr. Trippier

I give the hon. Gentleman an assurance that I shall consider the matter again. I cannot believe that there will be no premium places available in any part of his constituency with any voluntary training association that has been set up. It is important for me to stress that some £40 million was spent last year on unfilled places. As guardians of the taxpayers' money, we cannot consider that as responsible expenditure.