EU's pounds 400m training aid shunned

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The Independent Online
The Government risks losing almost pounds 400m in European training aid, the leader of the country's 81 Whitehall-backed Training and Enterprise Councils (TEC) has warned ministers.

Stephen Byers, the Labour employment spokesman, said yesterday that he had received a copy of a submission on the issue by Sir Gary Johnson, chairman of the TEC national council.

The Government has apparently argued that if some companies received the European "Objective 4" training cash, their competitors would be disadvantaged.

But Sir Gary points out in his letter that other member states have taken advantage of their training fund without undermining competition. He urged the Government to apply for the training resources.

Mr Byers said the TEC letter reveals that the Government lost pounds 118m in training money because it did not put forward a programme for 1994- 96.

"The Government is to decide in the next few days whether to put forward a programme for 1997-99. If they fail to do so, a further pounds 280m will be lost," he warned.