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9 Dec 2009 : Column 520Wcontinued
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what Union Learning Fund courses his Department and its predecessor has funded in the last five years. 
Mr. McFadden: The Union Learning Fund (ULF) is not used to directly fund the provision of education or training courses. Over the last five years my Department has provided £86 million to help trade unions boost their capacity as learning organisations and use their influence with employers, employees and learning providers to encourage greater take up of learning in the workplace.
There are now over 23,000 trained Union Learning Representatives who, supported by ULF, have helped more than 800,000 workers back into learning since the Fund was introduced in 1998. Over 220,000 were helped last year, many from those hard to reach groups, who employers and training providers find it so difficult to engage with, including over 33,000 workers with poor basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what steps his Department plans to take to assist people who have lost their jobs during the economic downturn to gain skills and qualifications necessary for them to obtain employment. 
Kevin Brennan: New offers worth over £300 million over two years will help up to 235,000 people get the training they need to obtain sustainable employment. These programmes are in addition to existing support for the unemployed available through mainstream funding.