Budget: Darling announces social care apprenticeships

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Young people are be offered social care apprenticeships, as part of the 2009 Budget measures to tackle long-term unemployment.

In his Budget speech today, chancellor Alistair Darling announced that from January next year, everyone aged between 18 and 24-years-old who has been jobless for 12 months will get a job or training place, with £260 million of new money available for training and subsidies.

The plan involves creating 50,000 traineeships for young people in the care sector as part of the Care First scheme, which will give social care providers a subsidy for offering sustained employment and training to young people to equip them with skills for a career in the sector, said the Budget report.

Darling said he was “determined to protect young people from the damaging impact of long-term unemployment”.

“The alternative is to return to the days when a whole generation of young people found themselves abandoned to a future on the scrap heap,” he added.

Additional measures were also announced to tackle child poverty. From next April the child element of the Child Tax Credit will increase by £20 a year above indexation. Children with disabilities will get an extra £100 a year to their Child Trust Fund, rising to £200 for those with severe disabilities.

Older people will see a 2.5%  increase to the basic state pension. Darling also promised to maintain the winter fuel allowance.

Public services were spared immediate cuts, as Darling said planned increases for local health services and schools would go ahead, despite his predictions the economy will shrink by 3.5% this year.

He said frontline public services could be protected by making efficiency savings in public sector back office functions, improved procurement and better collaboration at local level. “This will allow us to protect frontline public services, while keeping current spending growth, in real terms, at an average 0.7 per cent a year from 2011 onwards.”

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