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Greg condemns proposed skills training cuts as a sign of Labour's utter bankruptcy

November 9, 2009 6:40 PM

Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East Greg Stone has bitterly condemned proposed Labour government spending cuts to youth training and apprenticeship schemes.

Leaked papers published in the Observer show that Labour ministers are planning £350 million of cuts to training budgets for 2010/11 - reducing youth training by hundreds of thousands of places at a time when British youth unemployment is the highest in the Western world.

According to the Observer report, a briefing note seen by ministers at the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills includes proposals for slashing the £4bn skills budget.

"While the cuts are described as "efficiency savings", the documents make clear they would have a massive impact on front-line services. The cuts would mainly affect the 19-plus age group wanting to join courses at FE colleges and independent training companies or become apprentices.

The leaked papers suggest an initial £100m would be found by identifying savings in quangos and administration. But they make clear a further £252m would fall on the delivery of key government programmes, such as Train to Gain, Adult Apprentices and Skills for Life."

The reports suggest that up to 335,000 training places - or around 10% of the total - could be axed as a result.

The options include:

■ Cutting by 10% the amount of money for apprenticeships for over-25s. Last year the government promised to boost investment in this area.

■ Delaying the introduction of "skills accounts" - a flagship programme due to be fully operational in 2010-11 - under which people of 19 and over would be given personal budgets of up to £7,000 to spend on training.

■ Cutting by £25m funding for the new Adult Advancement and Careers Service set up last year.

■ Halving the number of Career Development Loans.

■ Reducing funding for the Train to Gain scheme under which employers receive money for training people already in work.

■ Freezing salaries and cutting staff at further education colleges.

Greg Stone said "This news is absolutely shocking and reveals the absolute bankruptcy of this Labour government in terms of finance, policy, and morality. A Labour government is planning to axe hundreds of thousands of FE places, apprenticeships, and skills training schemes in the middle of the worst recession for decades and at a time when 1 in 5 young people is out of work."

"If it was not clear before, it is now absolutely clear that Labour no longer deserve to be re-elected. Not only have they failed, they are targeting these cuts at the people who need their help most. It is time for them to go."