To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills
(1) what discussions he has had with Ministers and officials at the Department for Work and Pensions on the effect of that Department's 16 hour rule on his Department's traineeships scheme for people claiming jobseeker's allowance;
(2) what assessment he has made of the potential effect the Department for Work and Pension's 16 hour rule on benefit eligibility will have for the take-up of traineeships by 18 to 24 year olds claiming jobseeker's allowance;
(3) what instructions he has given to the Skills Funding Agency on clarification of the current restrictions on access to jobseeker's allowance for 18 to 24 year olds enrolled in his Department's traineeships scheme;
(4) what representations he has received from training providers about potential ineligibility for financial support for 18 to 24 year olds enrolled in his Department's traineeships scheme.
I regularly meet with the Minister for Employment, Department for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend Mr Hoban, to discuss the interaction with the skills and benefits systems, and my officials work closely with officials in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on the development and implementation of programmes such as traineeships. We indicated in our initial discussion paper (January 2013) our intention for traineeships to fit with the benefits system. Following this consultation we have designed traineeships to have the flexibility to enable providers to meet the requirements of young people who are claiming benefits. This enables training providers to design traineeships so that young people can continue to receive jobseeker's allowance (JSA) or the new universal credit while taking part in a traineeship, supporting young people to access traineeships.
The benefit rules (including the 16-hour rule) for JSA claimants apply to all provision funded by the Skills Funding Agency, including traineeships. FE providers have experience of designing programmes to fit within these rules. We will be undertaking an evaluation of traineeships during its first year of delivery and will be monitoring the take-up of the programme.
Local JCP have discretion to award training allowances where appropriate to those who would otherwise be eligible to claim JSA.
Young people taking part in traineeships will be undertaking education and training and, where they qualify, will be able to access existing programmes of financial support, including the £180 million Bursary Fund for 16 to 18-year-olds, and Discretionary Learning Support funding for those aged 19 up to 24. This is in addition to being able to claim JSA where applicable.
The Skills Funding Agency's funding rules reflect the principles set out in the Government's Framework for Delivery of traineeships, giving providers the flexibility to design traineeships to meet the needs of employers and young people, including those on JSA.