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Baroness Wilcox (Conservative)

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning (John Hayes) has today made the following Statement.

I am writing to inform the House that we are announcing the availability of the City Skills Fund, worth £4.5 million in total, designed to help cities and their surrounding areas realise the positive impact of high-quality skills training on their local economies and on the lives of people in their areas. This follows the announcement made by my right honourable friend the Minister of State for Decentralisation and Cities (Greg Clark) on 8 December 2011, of the publication of Unlocking Growth in Cities, which described a new framework for the relationship between our largest cities and central Government.

Cities are at the heart of our nation. As ever, they embody the best of what has been achieved and what could be. Each of us values civic pride and want to inspire still greater civic purpose. Economic growth fuelled by the progress of citizens and communities feeds purposeful pride. Inspired by our determination to build ever more confident civic life and appreciative of the central role of local government in doing so, we have jointly planned a new initiative to secure economic growth by feeding opportunity.

In particular, I want cities to be able to develop apprenticeship hubs and, working with colleges and independent providers, to tailor skills provision to the needs of employers.

The fund will be administered on my department's behalf by the Skills Funding Agency. I am today writing to the core cities and London to invite them to express an interest in bidding to the fund for up to £500,000 each. Copies of the letters will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

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