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Prison Work

Volume 622: debated on Tuesday 7 March 2017

13. What steps the Government are taking to ensure that prisoners work and earn while they serve their sentences. (909098)

We are launching new performance metrics that will measure not only the amount of work taking place in prisons but the percentage of prisoners who secure employment on release, and we will use those measurements to hold governors to account. We are also creating new apprenticeships in areas where there are skill shortages, such as construction, retail, catering, logistics and digital, so that prisoners can go into relevant roles.

We know that paid work transforms lives. Rather than provide purely menial work or training, will the Lord Chancellor require prisoners to pay their way via skilled employment, which can continue when their sentences end?

My hon. Friend is correct. We are taking an outside-in approach: we are finding employers who have jobs to offer on the outside, and they then start to deliver training on the inside, so that the individual goes straight into an apprenticeship or employment on release. We already have a very successful scheme involving Land Securities and Halfords, and we are building up the number of employers that are part of that arrangement.

There are many great examples of prison enterprises, such as the Freedom Bakery, which is a social enterprise artisan bakery that operates in the Scottish Prison Service at HMP Low Moss near Glasgow. What measures are the Government taking to encourage such initiatives south of the border?

That is an important initiative. We have several initiatives in our prisons, including the Clink Restaurant and the Bad Boys’ Bakery, which does excellent baked goods—I think I mentioned it last time. There are huge opportunities in catering and cheffing, in which we have skill shortages. We can do a great deal with apprenticeships to make sure that people are trained up to take on those roles on release.