Brown pledges spending switch

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The Independent Online
Labour will increase the share of national income spent on education, and reduce the share spent on unemployment, revers-ing the trend of the Tory years, Gordon Brown said yesterday.

Commenting on yesterday's Independent report on deep cuts in the education and employment budget, the shadow Chancellor told a Labour press conference it was true that government spending on training and employment was being cut. "It's been cut by 36 per cent since 1991-92," he said.

But Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, told a Conservative press conference: "I fear The Independent has got it totally wrong. In the first place, it is of course a matter of public record that we have reduced the amount of money we are spending on unemployed people, because the number of unemployed people has reduced.

"The one follows the other, except, of course with the Labour Party. I recall that Gordon Brown in November 1995 said that Labour would spend pounds 3bn, the eleventh time it has been spent, to get 250,000 people back into work. Since then, we have put 315,000 people back into work without a pounds 3bn tax, which is obviously a chimera."

Mr Brown said: "Training, as well as employment measures, are now suffering. It is indeed one of the reasons why our windfall levy is absolutely essential; to tackle the problem of youth and long-term unemployment and training.

"We've got this amazing situation that the figures this morning in The Independent highlight, where unemployment now costs this Government more than education.

"You cannot continue as a civilised society, with the hopes for the younger generation being fulfilled, if you are spending more on the problem of failure, that is the costs of unemployment, than you're spending on investment in your future, and that is education.

"So that is why it will be stated quite specifically in our manifesto, that we will reverse the trend of the Conservative years, where more is spent on welfare than education. We want the expenditure on education, as a share of national income, to rise while the expenditure on the income- related benefits for unemployment actually falls."