New Deal promise questioned

The largest-ever National Lottery grant for education and training has gone to a charity whose work is central to Welfare to Work.

But Nigel Haynes, the director of Fairbridge - which won Pounds 1 million to establish a skills for work project - immediately joined critics who question the potential of the New Deal for long-term-unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds.

Mr Haynes said: "The Government has done much to recognise the existence of the youth underclass, particularly in the setting up of its Social Exclusion Unit within the Cabinet Office.

"But as the start date for New Deal in pathfinder areas fast approaches, ministers are being asked some hard questions about the New Deal." He asked whether it would provide enough resources and the right programmes to make a real difference to the thousands of severely disaffected young people potential employers in the scheme were likely to regard as either unemployable or untrainable.

Other charities last month warned David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, that the whole initiative would collapse unless adequate resources were targeted at the 25 per cent of most disadvantaged young people.

Major companies including Jaguar, Kwik-Fit and PowerGen, are understood to have said that without such support to prepare young people for four Welfare to Work options they would not get involved in the programme. Other National Lottery winners in education and training include the National Extension College, which was awarded Pounds 209,000 for its Equal Access and Open Learning programme.

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