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Innovation Fund for Young People

Volume 565: debated on Monday 1 July 2013

1. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of his Department's innovation fund projects in helping disadvantaged young people. (162089)

The innovation fund is a £30 million investment testing cutting-edge projects to improve the employment prospects of our most disadvantaged 14 to 24-year-olds. So far the fund is working well: 6,000 young people are being helped, and recent statistics show 1,800 positive outcomes—each an improvement such as better school attendance, improved skills, qualifications or a move into work—which are being measured for future expansion.

I know my right hon. Friend recognises the importance of financial education and financial literacy in schools. Can he repeat his support for financial education to start in primary schools and will he reassure the House that he recognises the need for his Department to work closely with the Department for Education to deliver this important measure?

I can confirm that a strong passion of mine—and certainly one of the DWP’s—is to get financial education literacy into the national curriculum. I hope that view would be shared on both sides of the House. Clearly, people coming out of the education system need at some point to understand what interest rates are, for example—otherwise they will get ripped off by unscrupulous lenders. The national curriculum is published in its final form for first teaching in the autumn of September 2014. The Department for Education and ourselves are consulting on including financial education in it, and I believe that we are likely to get that, so I can say an honest “yes” to my hon. Friend.

The Daily Record recently alleged that Youth Contract wage incentives are being handed out to people already in work—just to give the illusion that the funds are being used. What investigation has the right hon. Gentleman made of that report?

This is not directly related to the innovation fund, which is about testing programmes so that extra skills, quality and money can eventually be put in. However, I am aware of what the hon. Lady says, as is the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Fareham (Mr Hoban) who is looking into it and will ensure that action is taken. If the allegation is true, we will act; if not, it will simply be a scurrilous report.