MP Frank Field backs builder training for benefit claimants


Tens of thousands of young benefit claimants should be trained as builders to curb immigration, slash welfare costs and end the housing crisis, a senior MP has suggested.

Frank Field, the Labour chair of the Commons work and pensions committee, said student-style loans would be provided to put people through a 10-week apprenticeship with private-sector training providers.

They could then expect to earn at least £80 a day during a further year of on-the-job learning and up to twice that by the end of the second year if their skills were certified by a government inspector.

The scheme is among proposals in a wide-ranging paper on the benefits system due to be published next month by the Civitas thinktank.

As many as 74,000 bricklayers could be trained, Mr Field believes.

"The longer-term solution to the housing benefit crisis is almost too obvious to state," he wrote.

"In normal circumstances it would be difficult to meet the existing demand for homes. It becomes incredibly difficult to do so if the Government operates an open-door immigration policy within the European Union.

"Our population growth is now being driven almost exclusively by immigration. For a host of reasons, and not simply to meet the housing demand, a future government must control our borders.

'Now, as well as at a future date, the obvious answer is relevant, that the only sustainable way to reduce the size of the housing benefit budget is to increase the supply of housing by initiating a national housebuilding programme."

Given the potential for a rapid wage increase, the paper suggested, the loans could be repaid over two years.

"Repayment would open the possibility of acquiring other apprenticeship skills at a later date.

"In this way a whole range of skills can be built up, with one course being the basis on which the next set of skills is built."

A Ukip spokeswoman said the scheme was good in principle but would not work while the UK remained in the EU.

"We are importing cheap foreign labour and subsidising their minimum-wage jobs with in-work benefits like tax credits and housing benefit," she said.

"Big business is using the British taxpayer to subsidise their salary bill.

"We've recently had the results from the negotiations on the EU's job-sharing site which is a total disaster for the British government and now means apprenticeships will be advertised to half a billion people.

"If only Mr Field's party would realise the damage the EU does for employment prospects in the UK, perhaps they'd see the sense in Brexit."