Responding to the publication by the chief secretary to the Treasury Stephen Byers of the white paper on Public Service Agreements, Mr Blunkett said:
'The DfEE has a major role in realising the Government's ambitions for a prosperous British economy. Better education and training will be the bedrock of increased productivity, while better targeting of resources will give everyone the opportunity to reach their full potential. To meet the challenges, published last month in 'Learning and Working Together for the Future' we have set objectives on raising standards of education; encouraging lifelong learning and helping people without jobs into work.
'We have already made significant progress towards meeting our key targets:
- the percentage of 11 year olds meeting the expected literacy standard has increased to 65 per cent ;
- the proportion of 16 year olds achieving one or more GCSEs at level G is already 93 per cent;
- the proportion of 16 year olds achieving five or more GCSEs grades A*-C is already at 46.3 per cent
- since it went national the New Deal has placed well over 38,000 young unemployed people into jobs.'
'These figures show that we are making good progress on the standards agenda, equipping increasing numbers of young people with the skills and abilities they need. The National Literacy Strategy, through the new literacy hour in schools, is already having an effect.'
The PSA targets, based on a 1997 baseline include:
the number of pupils aged 5, 6 or 7 in infant classes of over 30 to fall from 477,000 to zero by September 2001 at the latest;
an increase in the proportion of those aged 11 meeting the standard of literacy for that age (level 4 in the KS2 test) from 63% to 80% by 2002;
an increase in the proportion of those aged 11 meeting the standard of numeracy for that age (level 4 in the KS2 test) from 62% to 75% by 2002;
an increase in the proportion of those aged 16 who achieve one or more GCSEs at grade G, or equivalent, from 92% to 95% by 2002;
an increase in the proportion of those aged 16 who achieve five or more GCSEs grades A*-C from 45% to 50% by 2002;
an increase in the proportion of those aged 19 to have achieved NVQ Level 2 or equivalent from 72% to 85% by 2002;
an increase in the coverage of nursery places for 3 year olds from 34% to 66% by 2002, focusing on the most deprived areas of the country;
getting 250,000 under 25 year olds off benefit and into work by using money from the Windfall Levy;
targets for the New Deals in 1999-00, published each April, including the New Deals for lone parents and disabled people for which DfEE and DSS are jointly responsible, the figure to be updated annually for each succeeding financial year. (1998-99 target for New Deal for 18-24s placings is 100,000)
a target for placing unemployed people into work in 1999-2000, published each April, including within it individual targets for the number of JSA claimants unemployed for more than six months placed in to work and those with disabilities, the figure to be updated annually for each succeeding financial year. (1998-99 targets included: unemployed placings 1,300,000; long-term unemployed placings 250,000; people with disabilities placings 80,000)
Specific efficiency targets and service delivery targets are:
savings in unit costs in Further and Higher Education in 1999-2000 with further efficiency savings in later years;
For TECs, 2% unit costs savings per annum on their main programme, work based training for young people;
Employment Service to cover the costs of pay and price inflation and other pressures through efficiency savings, equivalent to an average of 4 per cent a year of running costs provision.