From education to employment

Leader of the Lib Dems slams Labours legacy

Sir Menzies Campbell has blasted Tony Blair’s nine year legacy on poverty, following the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday on social exclusion.

“Ming” Campbell noted: “The Prime Minister’s warm words are too little, too late”, in a statement released on the Liberal Democrat website.

Citing various examples of Labour’s strong record on reducing poverty, Mr Blair was quoted as saying: “Between 1998/9 and 2004 we achieved a fall in child poverty of 23 per cent before housing costs. The number of individuals in absolute poverty has fallen since 1996/97 by 4.8 million. There are 2.4 million fewer people who live in relative poverty, after housing costs, now than there were when we came into government”.

And pointing to their focus on unemployment, the Prime Minister continued: “2.5 million more people are now in work than they were in 1997. 1 million fewer people are receiving benefits. We have eradicated long-term youth unemployment. We have invested in regeneration through the national strategy for neighbourhood renewal in the 88 most deprived boroughs”.

“The Sure Start programme; the expansion of early years education, into which £17 billion has been invested during our time in government; free learning and childcare for 3 and 4 year-olds, which will be extended to an entitlement of 15 hours a week, for 38 weeks a year, by 2010; we are piloting extending this provision to 12,000 disadvantaged 2 year-olds at the moment; by 2010 there will be 3,500 Childrens Centres offering education, health and parenting services all on the same site”, Mr Blair continued.

“If policies had been devised expressly to defy the evidence they could hardly have been better. We have responded to the evidence and begun to correct the anomaly”.

However, Ming Campbell was quick to point out the dangers involved: “It is deeply worrying that the chances of a poor child becoming a poor adult are still growing. At the same time bonuses in the City have climbed to record levels”.

“Who would have predicted this after nine years of a Labour government?”

Vijay Pattni.

Next week: Boris Johnson MP and Stephen Williams MP talk exclusively to FE News

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