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Tax cash for green task force

THE GOVERNMENT'S planned Environmental Task Force is to get £600M of Windfall Tax funding over the next four years, Employment Minister Andrew Smith pledged this week.

The ETF is part of the New Deal scheme and will sit alongside options to work for a private, public or voluntary sector or return to full time education.

Speaking at the Groundwork National Conference on Monday, Smith said the ETF would offer employment opportunities for up to 150,000 young people. 'The government is budgeting for over £600M to be available to make sure the ETF offers the quality of work and training needed to get young people into jobs and bring benefit to the environment.'

Young people signing up to the ETF option are expected to take part in urban and rural regeneration projects. They will be paid an allowance equivalent to full benefits plus a bonus of £400 over the six month training period.

Voluntary organisations and local authorities will be contracted by the Employment Service to supervise and train the 'New Dealers'. They will be paid between £80 and £120 per person per week, compared to the £60 for private sector employees.

The construction industry New Deal scheme has been agreed with the DfEE, albeit a month later than expected. 'We had a bit of a debate over details but the scheme is now finalised,' claimed Construction Confederation training director Jeremy Hawksley. The launch is expected in early February.

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