Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Chancellor Gordon Brown Outlines Government Plans to Help Britain´s ´Lost´ Youngsters [May 1999]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 11 May 1999.

A new future for the 150,000 16-18 year olds not in work, education or retraining was outlined today by the Chancellor Gordon Brown.

Speaking to the Foyer Federation Conference in London the Chancellor said that the current support system for 16-18 year olds was “perverse and indefensible” and outlined a system of Educational Maintenance Allowance of up to £40 a week to persuade teenagers to stay on at school.

The Chancellor said:

“This is a wasted generation. There are 150,000 teenagers who are neither in work, education or training.

“This system of Education Maintenance Allowances of up to £40 we propose is developed to persuade them to stay in school. They will offer real scope to make a difference to the lives of many young people who are in danger of losing out.”

The allowances will be paid in pilot areas where more young people leave school early than is the national norm. The Government will pay up to £40 a week for young people in families where the household income is below £13,000.

Educational Maintenance Allowances will start in September this year in 12 pilot areas. The areas are: Bolton, Nottingham, Cornwall, Doncaster, Gateshead, Leeds, Middlesborough, Oldham, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall and the four London boroughs of Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Greenwich.

The Chancellor said that more must be done than just home the homeless. He said:

“Our ambition is not limited to bricks and mortar; it is to enable young men and women bridge the gap between what they are and what they have in themselves to become. So we must not only deal with the consequences of poverty, we must tackle its causes.

“We are determined to provide a new future for the many thousands of people who had been written off for too long, unable to realise their potential.

“Our challenge amongst young people is to persuade them to stay on at school or college, to take careers advice and to recognise the need for even the most basic qualifications is they are to secure a job.”

This was one of the most powerful motivating force behind the introduction of the new Educational Maintenance Allowance.

The Chancellor said the allowances “will make a real difference to the lives of many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds”. And there would be a true partnership between the Government, educational authorities, schools, colleges and foyer and housing agencies to make them a success.

The Chancellor said:

“What most people remember of the 1930s is unemployed men standing on street corners. What people identify with the 1980s are youngsters begging and sleeping rough in our city streets.

“I want the 1990s and the new Millennium to be remembered for inclusion – when individuals, the voluntary sector and Government work together with a shared purpose.”