HC Deb 18 March 1986 vol 94 c147
3. Mr. Lawler

asked the Paymaster General what is the number and percentage of the total of people on the enterprise allowance scheme under 25 years of age.

Mr. Trippier

On 31 January 1986 there were 13,449 people—25.6 per cent.—under 25 years of age out of a total of 52,516 currently in receipt of the enterprise allowance.

Mr. Lawler

I thank my hon. Friend for that encouraging reply, which shows that the spirit of enterprise is flourishing among young people. Is that proportion increasing? Will my hon. Friend assure the House that every opportunity will be made available to trainees to give them guidance and encouragement on how to become self-employed and how to set up their own businesses?

Mr. Trippier

The figure has increased since the scheme went nationwide on 1 August 1983. The number of young people involved in the enterprise allowance scheme has increased from 17.2 to 25.6 per cent. I shall certainly give my hon. Friend the assurance that he seeks. A number of programmes are already developing, even in YTS; in which we are trying to stimulate the expansion of enterprise. A number of those youngsters are now working for themselves.

Mr. Bellingham

Is my hon. Friend aware that a significant number of youngsters in King's Lynn have applied to join the scheme but have been turned down? Does he agree that, although this is an excellent scheme, the criteria should be relaxed?

Mr. Trippier

The criteria will be relaxed as from 1 April, when we are reducing the qualifying period from 13 to 8 weeks. I make no apology for the fact that we still want anyone who applies for the EAS to have access to £1,000. If people do not have the wit to get access to £1,000, I very much doubt that they will ever have the wit to run successful businesses of their own.

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