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Volume 590: debated on Thursday 8 January 2015

12. What assessment he has made of recent trends in the number of apprenticeship starts for people under 19; and if he will make a statement. (906873)

In 2013-14 there was a total of 119,800 apprenticeship starts for people under 19—5,300 more and a 4.6% increase compared with 2012-13.

Last month, the Government’s own apprenticeship pay survey showed that one in four young apprentices are not receiving the legal minimum wage they are entitled to. In 2013-14, how many 16 to 18-year-olds did not receive the £2.68 per hour they are entitled to?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State set out very clearly what we are doing to improve enforcement of the national minimum wage. One of the things that is clearly happening is that, given the complexity of the different rates—the rate changes both if someone becomes an apprentice and as they get older—many employers simply get it wrong because people’s ages change as they go through an apprenticeship scheme. That is one of the reasons we have written to the Low Pay Commission strongly suggesting that it should simplify the system and improve the minimum wage rate for 16 to 17-year-olds in apprenticeships. That would deliver a £1 increase, but it would also simplify the system, which would improve enforcement. I am happy to write to the hon. Lady with the detail on the figures she desires.