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Tories ‘to fund apprenticeships with bank fines’

April 28, 2015

A Conservative government would use fines imposed on Deutsche Bank for its involvement in rigging interest rates to fund 50,000 apprenticeships, David Cameron has announced.

The Conservative leader said the scheme would “train young people and get them off the dole and in to work”.

It comes on top of three million apprenticeships the party has pledged over the next Parliament if re-elected.

Labour said the number of young people starting apprenticeships had fallen.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, meanwhile, has identified a plan for economic recovery as a “red line” issue in any coalition talks. He called for a “Stability Budget” within the first 50 days of the next Parliament.

Ed Miliband will focus on immigration, pledging a Labour government would set out the action it intends to take on the issue within 100 days of taking office.

Growth in the UK economy slowed in the first three months of 2015, with GDP falling to 0.3% from 0.6% in the previous quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Average incomes are set to fall over the next five years regardless of who leads the new government, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage will appeal to Labour voters in the north of England in a speech in Hartlepool.

Plaid Cymru pledges to end the postcode lottery it says patients in Wales can face in getting new medicines on the NHS.

The Conservatives’ latest apprenticeship pledge will target people aged between 22 and 24 who have been unemployed for more than six months.

The £200m cost of the scheme will come from the Deutsche Bank fine.

Earlier this month, the bank was fined $2.5bn (£1.66bn) by US and UK regulators for trying to manipulate Libor and Euribor inter-bank lending rates.

Nick Clegg says a Budget should be held within 50 days of the election, as was the case in 2010
Speaking in north London, Mr Cameron said: “We’re going to take the fines from the banks who tried to rig markets – and we’re going to use it to train young people and get them off the dole and into work.”

The prime minister again promised to give everything to get his party re-elected, urging people to “let rip” with any concerns they have between now and polling day to ensure a “lively and vigorous” debate on the future of the country.

Commenting on the GDP slowdown, Mr Cameron said the figures were “less exciting” than the previous quarter and showed the UK was not immune from the effects of instability in Europe and a slowdown in other parts of the world.

While the economy was still growing, the figures were “a timely reminder that you cannot take recovery for granted”.

His “simple” message was that the Conservatives would offer stability, “securing a better future for you, your family and for Britain, and from now until polling day I’m going to fight for that future with every ounce of energy in my body.”

But Labour claimed the number of young people starting apprenticeships had gone down in the past year.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said the proportion of apprenticeships started by young people is down almost a quarter since the coalition came to power.

He added: “At the same time, we’ve seen the quality of apprenticeships undermined. One in five apprentices is receiving no formal training, while almost four in ten firms are unaware the in-work training they provide is branded as an apprenticeship by the government.

“The Tories have failed to match Labour’s plans to guarantee an apprenticeship place for every school leaver who gets the grades, use government procurement to create thousands of new apprenticeship opportunities and safeguard apprenticeship quality.”

The Lib Dems have said they would double the number of employers offering apprenticeships to young people.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said the move would mean 360,000 firms offering on-the-job training.

Mr Clegg told BBC Breakfast his party would not allow the Conservatives or Labour to “risk our economic recovery” in any coalition and that, as was the case in 2010, a Budget must be held within weeks of a new government being formed.

In a speech in London, he said that Budget should set a clear timetable for deficit reduction and more details of future spending cuts, adding that he would not “accept” Conservative plans for a further £12bn reduction in the welfare bill.

Mr Clegg said it was an “insult” to the public that their coalition partners had no spelled out their welfare plans in detail.

“Why on earth do the Conservatives think it is fair to single out working-age poor as the only people in their plans to make further sacrifices to balance the books?” he said.

He added: “Whether we are in government with Labour or the Conservatives, we will pin them down within weeks of the election and force them to put their cards on the table.”

“David Cameron, Ed Miliband: the Liberal Democrats won’t let you bluff your way through. We won’t let you risk our economic recovery.

The Lib Dems have said a pledge to raise education funding in England from £49bn to £55.3bn during the next five years would also be a “deal breaker” in any coalition negotiations with either Labour or the Conservatives.

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