To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will work with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to reform universal credit rules to ensure that no claimant is prevented from accessing training that will help them find meaningful employment.
30 June 2021
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education and my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, have already been working on Universal Credit matters, and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced a temporary extension to the length of time people can undertake training to develop work-related skills and qualifications, whilst still receiving Universal Credit to support their living costs. The length of time that Universal Credit claimants can spend on work-related, full-time training has been extended from up to 8 weeks to up to 12 weeks throughout the UK, and up to 16 weeks in England for the purpose of attending Skills Bootcamps. The change was implemented on 26 April and will run for a 6-month period, after which time the impact of this change will be reviewed.
There is already close and cross working across the government in respect of skills and employment. In England, the pre-employment training element of the DWP-led sector-based work academy programme (SWAP) is funded by the Department for Education through the adult education budget, which in several regions is managed by the relevant mayoral combined authority. The department is working with DWP to help deliver the extra 80,000 SWAP places for financial year 2021/22 announced by DWP in February this year. Professional, impartial careers information, advice and guidance underpins the range of measures being offered via the Plan For Jobs. Careers advisers help individuals and organisations to consider the different programmes, including apprenticeships, traineeships, Kickstart, SWAP, learning and upskilling opportunities, and help them to determine which route would be best for them. The department continues to work closely with DWP to make sure that our respective offers for job seekers and universal credit claimants complement each other and that customers enjoy a joined-up user experience, which helps them to progress.
The department is also working with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on the green jobs task force, which focuses on the immediate and longer-term challenges of delivering skilled workers for the UK’s transition to a net zero agenda.