Young people have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, not just with time missed from school and college, but also young adults trying to enter the workplace. I am a huge fan of apprenticeships having done one myself many years ago, so as the Apprenticeships Minister, I was delighted to announce that we’re boosting cash incentives for businesses taking on apprentices, meaning from June 1st employers of all sizes in England can claim £3,000 for each new apprentice hired. This will boost opportunities and put skills and jobs at the heart of our recovery.
This week, we also expanded our catch-up funding, now totalling over £3 billion. Providing 100 million extra tutoring hours in small groups for children and young people across England, ensuring that no child is left behind as they return to the routine of schooling. Some of this money will also be used to train and support 500,000 teachers and early-years practitioners who have done a brilliant job keeping education going throughout the past year.
Thanks to the incredible efforts that have gone into rolling out the vaccine our recovery and reopening continues. In my regular briefing with healthcare leaders, I was updated on our local stats, which show in West Sussex we’ve vaccinated 92% of people in cohorts one to nine – and nearly 80% of those over 40.
As we move to the second phase of the vaccination programme, for people in the lower risk categories, some GP run sites will be closing, including Selsey and Tangmere. The teams there have done an exceptional job and we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude. People in those communities will now be serviced by the Chichester Centre at Westgate, where operations are expanding. For an interim period, people who are awaiting their second dose may be directed to the Bognor Centre. If you have any questions please email the local vaccination team at, firstname.lastname@example.org
We also discussed the wider health service, as due to the pandemic, many services now have significant waiting lists. There’s a massive effort underway to ensure people are seen and operations carried out as quickly as possible. Significant progress is being made thanks to the hard work of our local NHS Trust, who’ve already returned to the two-week cancer standard. This means if you're suspected of having cancer you will be seen by a diagnostician within a fortnight.
I will be staying in close contact with our healthcare leaders to support them wherever possible. Despite the pressures we’re facing, I have every confidence in our brilliant local team who are already making real progress to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.