To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what would be the real value of the youth training allowances for 16 and 17-year-olds if they had been raised by (a) the rise in the retail prices index and (b) the rise in average earnings since their introduction as the YOP allowance in April 1978; when was the last rise in the allowances; what plans he has for further rises; and if he will make a statement.
The weekly allowance paid to young people on the youth opportunities programme (YOP) in April 1978 was £19·50, equivalent to £49·45 if adjusted for changes in the retail prices index and equivalent to £63·48 if adjusted for changes in the index of average earnings.The lower level of the youth training allowance—£29·50 per week—was set in July 1988. The higher level of the youth training allowance has remained unchanged since it was set in April 1986. There are no plans to increase these training allowances, but from the introduction of youth training on 29 May, young people will receive the higher level of allowance from their 17th birthday rather than on completing a year of training, so that most young people will receive the higher level earlier in their training.YTS and—especially—youth training, incorporates substantially higher quality training than YOP. In contrast with YOP, youth training will provide all trainees with the opportunity to obtain a recognised vocational qualification. It is therefore misleading to compare the values of the YOP and YTS youth training allowances, which reflect the fact that trainees are still learning.Increasing numbers of employers have been supplementing the minimum trainee allowances and many trainees are now in receipt of more than the minimum. Many are also employed, and receiving wages.