Politicians have many tricks up their sleeves, one of which David Cameron recently deployed in a speech more widely about life chances but in a section about launching a mentoring scheme aimed at students “at risk of underachieving or dropping out.”
The trick is in the section below:
AKA Announce one initiative, then mention a large amount of funding that isn’t just for that one initiative.
“We’ll direct £70 million towards careers in this Parliament”
If we take that to mean ‘youth’ careers services (the accompanying press release elaborates “government will spend £70 million on its strategy to improve careers education and guidance in this Parliament”) then the announced mentoring scheme is only a tiny, tiny percentage of that money.
Before we do the math, let’s remember as well that “in this Parliament” now means by statute, a period of 5 years.
Last financial year, the young people’s helpline section of the National Careers Service cost £3,369,000. (x5 = £16,845,000) The financial year before this cost £4.165m so funding there is falling.
The Careers & Enterprise Company was established with a one off £20m investment with the hope that employers would pay for it in future years.
We know the Government also funds advice channels such as YourLife, Big Bang Fairs and others. The 14/15 cost for all of those initiatives was £7.85m. If they were to be continued over 5 years that’s £39,250,000 (which means they won’t be on that scale).
Without taking into account future cuts to those figures (and there will be, the Department of Business, Innovation & Skills has to cut £2.4bn before 2020), that takes the total to over £80m already.
We also know that trials are currently being run by Job Centre Plus in schools. I’ve been unable to find a cost for this trial but I would assume that will be funded by the Department for Work and Pensions so might not be included in Cameron’s headline figure. Likewise the funding for the Skills Show is from the European Social Fund so comes from a wholly different pot.
Even with that rough and ready maths, you can see how quickly the figure of £70m is soon soaked up by current commitments without nary a penny thrown in the direction of a mentoring scheme.