USD 73.2351


EUR 85.956


BRENT 45.02


AI-92 43.34


AI-95 47.57


AI-98 53


Diesel 47.93



UK Single Mothers Fit For Gas Fitters

Unemployed single mothers to be trained as gas fitters

Tony Blair and Gordon Brown will seek to draw attention away from the Government's recent troubles today by announcing a new scheme to help train unemployed single mothers and fathers as gas fitters through a job creation programme called "Ambition: energy".

The scheme, to be run as a joint venture with employers such as British Gas, will create 4,500 jobs in the energy sector, where there is a skills gap.

Single parents will be offered college courses in fitting and repairing gas fires and central heating. The scheme will guarantee lone parents jobs once they are trained.

The Chancellor will pledge to inject cash into "innovation and science" to improve the recruitment and training of scientists and engineers.

Another tranche of cash will bolster small businesses and enterprise lessons in schools, while more money will be injected into building a better infrastructure for enterprise and transport.

Education and skills will be the main beneficiary in this spending round, he will say. "And just as we must improve productivity in the private sectors so by matching resources with reform we must increase the productivity of the public sector," Mr Brown will pledge.

The Prime Minister will today announce the extension of Job Centre Plus throughout the country. He will set a target to have a quarter of the country served by the new employment and benefit centres by the end of next year.

They will be set up in 50 towns and cities across the country, including Scotland. This will mean that people claiming benefit for the first time will be compelled to take a job interview.

Lone parents claiming benefit will also have to have an interview about work or training options and those with children over 13 will be called in to review their employment situation.

People who refuse to co-operate may have their benefits docked and those who refuse job offers will also face penalties.