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Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 26 November 1997

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on his Department's expenditure plans for 1998–99. [18306]

The Department's control total for 1998–99 is £13,372 million. We are committed to working within the Department totals for 1998–99 which we inherited from the previous administration and therefore this sum is the same as that announced in November 1996 except in respect of agreed inter-Departmental transfers. I have reallocated this expenditure to align the Department's programmes with the Government's new objectives, policies and priorities.The voted expenditure for 1998–99 will be supplemented by up to £856 million from outside the control total, financed by the windfall tax, for the welfare to work programme and the New Deal for Schools. In addition, the bulk of expenditure on schools is provided through the local authority finance settlement. The level of expenditure next year on the New Deal for people with disabilities or a long-standing illness, and the New Deal for lone parents, will be announced when plans are finalised.SCHOOLS

Local authority finance

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in the Budget an addition to local authority Education Standard Spending of £1,017 million, a year on year increase of 5.7 per cent., taking the total to £19,384 million including the transfer back into local government finance of the deduction made for the Nursery Voucher Scheme introduced by the previous administration. The details of the local authority finance settlement will be announced next week by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister. It is for local authorities to decide how to allocate the available funding, but the Government expects that the funds will be passed on to schools and devoted to raising standards.

Under fives

We are returning to local education authorities the deduction of £527 million from standard spending assessments made by the previous administration. These funds will allow authorities to work in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors to develop their Early Years Development Plans, designed to provide a high quality nursery education on demand to all four-year-olds. Central government funds of £135 million will provide additional grant support to local authorities, to support expansion of the number of places available, and the development of Early Excellence Centres.

School standards and effectiveness

We have set up a new and expanded Standards Fund, replacing the Grants for Educational Support and Training programme. The total Standards Fund programme expenditure is to be £500 million.

Schools capital and the New Deal for Schools

£250 million will be made available from the windfall tax in 1998–99 for the New Deal for Schools, to start tackling the backlog of repairs to school buildings and to develop public private partnerships to maintain an repair schools. The total includes £15 million for school security, to be deployed as part of the Standards Fund. These sums are in addition to the existing schools capital programme of £648 million, including the Department's contribution to the Government's local authority capital challenge fund.

National Grid for Learning

£50 million of the New Deal for Schools funds in 1998–99 will support expenditure of £100 million on the capital and infrastructure requirements of setting up the National Grid for Learning, to give schools easier access to high quality materials to support the raising of standards. This will be delivered through the Standards Fund.

Specialist schools

The specialist schools programme will be increased by £6 million to £41 million to support public/private partnerships, allowing the expansion of the programme to 330 schools by September 1998. At the same time we shall broaden the reach of the programme, ensuring that it is open to as many children as possible—both those attending specialist schools, and those in neighbouring schools enjoying their facilities.

Teacher Training Agency

The total grant for the Teacher Training Agency will be £206 million in recognition of the central role they have to play in the Government's drive on standards through action to recruit sufficient high quality entrants to teaching; to ensure that new and existing teachers receive the support and training they need to raise pupil achievement, particularly in the priority areas of literacy, numeracy and ICT; and to underpin effective school leadership.


Lifelong learning

The Government is committed to creating a learning society. This will involve both greater and wider participation, giving access and opportunity to those hitherto excluded so that equality of opportunity and lifelong learning become a reality. We have been able to redirect expenditure so as to make a start on the recommendations of the Kennedy report to widen participation in lifelong learning amongst disadvantaged groups with low or no qualifications.

Further Education

A total of £83 million, including £63 million of new public funding and an estimated £20 million increase in employers' contributions to course fees, will be available to the further education sector in 1998–99, taking the Further Education Funding Council's grant for 1998–99 to £3,114 million.

Higher Education

I have already announced a package of measures that will allow an extra £165 million to be spent on higher education in 1998–99. Universities and colleges will have an extra £125 million to maintain quality and improve standards and to make a start on the backlog of maintenance and equipment replacement. There will be a £36 million access package to benefit part-time students and those facing particular hardship, allowing the doubling of access funds. £4 million will be made available to increase HE participation through sub-degree programmes. The grant for the Higher Education Funding Council will be set at £3,504 million.

Training and Enterprise Councils

The Government is committed to the role of TECs in meeting local needs and contributing to local economic development. The Department's programmes to be delivered through TECs in 1998–99 amount to £1.3 billion. In addition, TECs will be playing an important strategic role as a key local partner in a wide range of other initiatives including New Deal, the Single Regeneration Budget, and European funding schemes.

Employment programmes

Welfare to work

The Government is committed to helping unemployed people, particularly the most disadvantaged, enhance their employability and get into work as quickly as possible. Following my right hon. Friend the Chancellor's announcement in the Budget, we will be spending up to an additional £606 million in 1998–99 for the introduction of the New Deal for unemployed 18–24 year olds and for those over 25 unemployed for two years or more. The New Deal for unemployed 18–24 year olds will be launched in January next year in pathfinder areas, with the national start in April. The New Deal for the long-term unemployed will start in June 1998.

In addition, the Secretary of State for Social Security and I are working closely together on plans for launching the New Deal for people with disabilities or a long-standing illness, using up to £195 million which the Budget made available, and on plans to launch the national roll out of the New Deal for lone parents with an additional £150 million, over the lifetime of the Parliament.

Employment Zones

We have reallocated expenditure within the Employment Service to allow £30 million to be deployed in 1998–99 to setting up the first prototype Employment Zones, which will offer new help for unemployed people, providing innovative pathways into sustainable work.

Other measures for helping the unemployed

In addition to the above, we have refocussed some £289 million provision within the Employment Service to enable it to help other unemployed people and those with disabilities back to work.