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Prescott pledges cash aid for school-leavers

(First Edition)

INCOME support should be restored to 16- and 17-year-olds who cannot find work or training places, John Prescott, Labour's employment spokesman, insisted yesterday, writes Patricia Wynn Davies.

Mr Prescott, a contender in the party's leadership contest, made the pledge in a speech to a Hull sixth-form college - the only Labour politician to give such an assurance. He said 68,000 young people were denied a place on a Youth Training Scheme in spite of the Government's guarantee to provide places for all.

'I will guarantee that every 16- and 17-year-old will either be in full-time education, in employment or in training,' he said.

'And if we fail, I believe we should give young people the right to income support until we meet our obligations to them.' He said he would also get more young people into work through an emergency job creation programme.

Only Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has made a costed pledge to restore benefit for 16 and 17-year-olds, estimated at pounds 140m a year.