Welfare to work threat to jobs

May 23, 1997

THE TRAINING and Enterprise Councils have warned that the Government's ambitious welfare-to-work programme could actually increase unemployment, without proper planning.

The TEC National Council has launched a bid for a key role in delivering the Government's plans to take 250,000 18-to-25-year-olds from benefit into work. It has produced a policy paper, outlining the "potential pitfalls" that could be met, without the TEC's help.

The TEC's battle for influence comes as they face an increasingly uncertain future under the new Government. In opposition, Labour indicated that the structure of 79 regional TECs will remain in place, but it said in its manifesto that "Pounds 150 million of TEC money could be better used." Labour may use the money to fill one million Individual Learning Accounts with Pounds 150 each.

Chris Humphries, director of policy and strategy at the TEC National Council, said: "We do not know the situation yet. Our main concern is that the budget for programmes is not cut back."

Education secretary David Blunkett has indicated that the further education sector would play a crucial role in delivering Labour's welfare-to-work programme, which will be funded through chancellor Gordon Brown's plans for a multibillion pound windfall tax on the privatised utilities. But as the size of the tax yield is still unclear, and some companies are threatening to challenge the tax in the courts, Labour has failed to say how the money will be divided, and what share TECs will have.

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