These are the key points from the budget announcement today, which are pertinent to the employment and skills sectors:
· The Government will introduce a new Apprenticeship Voucher, putting employers in control of Government funding for training apprentices needs. Testing will begin with employers and providers immediately, with a view to full implementation by 2017.
· A package of measures will be introduced to improve employment outcomes for people with mental health conditions, improving links between health and employment support, and learning from the roll out of Fit for Work and the mental health pilots agreed as part of the Growth Deals.
· Starting in 2016, the Government will provide Day 1 on-line Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to 40,000 ESA and JSA claimants and individuals being supported by Fit for Work. From summer 2015 the Government will also being to co-locate Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) therapists in over 350 jobcentres.
· An increase in the adult National Minimum Wage by 3.1% to £6.70 from October 2015 and an increase in the Apprenticeship rate by 57p an hour to £3.30.
· The Mayor for London and the Greater London Authority will take over the running of the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers in the capital, and will also take on a role in the re-commissioning of Further Education skills provision in London. In addition, £7m will be provided to the GLA to support the development of the Croydon Growth Zone, aimed to unlock over 10,000 jobs.
· A new devolution deal with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will give West Yorkshire new powers over skills, business support and transport.
· The British Bankers Association will produce a central list, published online, of all the Apprenticeships available through UK banks. This will make it quicker and easier for people to understand the Apprenticeships which are available and how to apply.
· The Government will invest £15m through to 2018 in the greater application of Real Time Information to reduce DWP fraud and error rates in the application of Pension Credit and Housing Benefit.
· From 2015 the Government will restrict access to Universal Credit for EEA migrants who are out of work.
· The Skills Investment Fund will be extended, providing £4m to ensure that it can continue to match fund support for training in film, television, visual effects, video gaming and animation for a further two years