Conservatives pledge to create three million more apprenticeships if they win in May

David Cameron has pledged to fund three million extra apprenticeships by 2020 if the Conservatives win the next election using money generated by more benefit cuts.

David Cameron speaking at the Ransomes Jacobsen HQ
David Cameron speaking at the Ransomes Jacobsen HQ

The Prime Minister today promised to cut the cap on the amount of benefits one household can claim from £26,000 to £23,000 "within a few days" of a Tory victory in May.

He said this would generate £135 million in savings to pay for the new scheme, expected to cost £300 million per year.

A further £120 million would be found by pulling housing benefit from 18 to 21-year-olds on Jobseekers' Allowance.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said nobody would believe promises from the current government as numbers of apprentices had fallen over the course of this Parliament.

Regional director for the North at Glendale Keith Hepplewhite, who estimates half of his current grounds maintenance and arboriculture contracts contain a commitment to recruiting apprentices, said more apprentices was good news.

"I think it’s essential for the wellbeing and longevity of this particular industry that we recruit more people and the only way to do that is from the ground up," he said.

"Commercially it makes sense, we want people from the local community, we’ve got more chance of people living in the area taking pride in what they do rather than being shipped in from elsewhere."

But he said it was important that whoever wins the next election keeps things simple for companies.

"The trouble is the funding streams change so incredibly frequently that it’s difficult to keep track especially for smaller companies. We’re fortunate that we have a larger back office staff who can monitor these changes than most companies have."

Apprenticeships were also on the agenda when Cameron visited Ransomes Jacobsen’s European head office and manufacturing facility last Monday.

He used the Ipswich factory as a stage for a speech which laid out his party's focus on the economy and jobs in the General Election campaign and committed it to the "aspiration" of full employment.

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