Osborne’s trumpeted ‘superior’ skills training programme doesn’t exist

Ministers admit George Osborne's trumpeted "superior" skills training programme still hasn't started .

When Labour announced in January that it would introduce a basic skills test for young jobseekers, a Tory spokesperson hit back that Labour were “copying a Conservative policy that already exists and is superior”.

The spokesperson was referring to a policy announced by chancellor George Osborne in last year’s Autumn Statement, which aimed to retrain young JSA claimants who lacked Level 2 English and maths from the first day of their claim.

The scheme would have meant that claimants had to complete up to 16 hours a week training alongside job search. Failing to do so would mean a loss of benefits.

It has now emerged, however, that the Tories’ “superior” policy…hasn’t even started yet!

Not a single person has received any training on the scheme and the government is unable to confirm when the scheme will actually start.

The news was revealed in an answer by secretary of state for work and pensions Esther McVey to a parliamentary question* from Labour shadow secretary of State for work and pensions Rachel Reeves.

When asked how many people had taken up training as a result of the government’s scheme, Ms McVey confirmed that no one had as yet taken up training because the pilot “has not started yet”.

This, despite the fact that up to one in ten people claiming benefits do not have basic English, maths or IT skills.

In sum, the Tory policy is less ‘superior’ and more transcendental – as far as we know, it doesn’t even exist.

*Parliamentary question from Rachel Reeves on the government’s pilot skills scheme (29/01/2014)

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.