Budget Special: Tecs cuts risk mothers' wrath

THE BUDGET AND YOU: Work incentives
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The Independent Online
The Government risked the wrath of mothers by cutting childcare budgets for Training and Enterprise Councils.

The drop in spending is part of a pounds 34m cut in cash terms in TEC budgets which will also affect the Training for Work programme for the adult unemployed and the Jobmatch scheme aimed at preparing the jobless for interviews.

Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education and Employment, however pointed out that the funding for Youth Training and the employer-based Modern Apprenticeships schemes would continue to rise to some pounds 800m by 1999-2000. Mrs Shephard said the Government was determined to meet the target of 60,000 people gaining National Vocational Qualification level three by 2000.

The Employment Secretary said that despite a 10 per cent fall in unemployment over the last 12 months, overall funding for training and employment programmes would increase by some pounds 90m in 1997-98 over forecast expenditure in 1996- 97. Chris Humphreys, chief executive of the Tecs national council, said the Budget was "reasonably positive" and that although there were budget cuts they were out-paced by the drop in unemployment.

David Blunkett, shadow education and employment spokesman, however said the Government had taken a short-sighted view of the need to tackle long- term unemployment. He said the figures showed total cuts in the subvention to the Employment Service amounted to pounds 187m - a drop of 17 per cent in real terms.

Tecs would also face substantial cuts in programmes to get people back to work and to help those who want to start their own businesses. "This package is very short-sighted and fails to address properly the need to raise standards and accelerate the introduction of the welfare-to-work principle."

In his Budget speech, Mr Clarke confirmed that pounds 100m in "new money" would be devoted to a big extension of a workfare-style scheme aimed at ousting "dole cheats".

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