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Colleges await a pound;600m windfall;Exclusive

Record increases in spending on colleges will be announced by David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary next month, in a bid to help unemployed teenagers.

Mr Blunkett is expected to announce a cash injection of at least pound;600 million for 2001-2002 - the third year of the Government's comprehensive spending review settlement - when he addresses the annual conference of the Association of Colleges in Harrogate.

Much of the cash will be used to recruit some of the 160,000 16 to 18-year-olds who have quit all education and training and are jobless.

Help will also be given to raise college spending levels to that of school sixth-forms. Currently colleges spend an estimated pound;1,500 a year less on a student taking three A-levels than schools. The cash will prepare the ground for the major reforms proposed in a Learning and Skills Bill. Legislation will be unveiled in the Queen's Speech, a week before Mr Blunkett's AOC speech.

The conference has become for colleges what the North of England education conference was for schools in the 1980s - the forum for government to make major spending announcements.

Government sources told The TES that Mr Blunkett would be a "considerable beneficiary" from Chancellor Gordon Brown's war chest in the run-up to the next general election. The rise would be a "significant increase" on the 8 per cent secured for the coming year.

FE Focus pull-out, I Leader, 20

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