FAYE Purbrick, MP candidate for the new Glastonbury and Somerton constituency, has today welcomed the major set of reforms announced by the Prime Minister that will help drive growth across Somerset.

On Monday (March 18), the Prime Minister announced that the Conservative Government will fully fund apprenticeships for young people in small businesses from April 1, 2024, and increase the amount of funding that large employers who are paying the Apprenticeship Levy can pass onto other businesses from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

This will benefit businesses across Somerset and see more apprentices being trained at Strode College.

This will in turn support smaller businesses, skilled trades like plumbers, electricians, hairdressers and construction, and much more.

Larger local businesses like Wessex Water, Thales, Clarks, or Leonardo- who build helicopters such as the Lynx and the AW101, will also benefit in building their skilled workforce.

Faye Purbrick, MP candidate for Glastonbury and Somerton, said: “Since the Conservatives came into office in 2010, we have already seen nearly 10,000 new apprentices in Glastonbury and Somerton, driving growth and helping to build-up a considerable high-skill manufacturing base locally.

“Yesterday’s announcement will build on that progress to support even more young people to fulfil their potential, while also helping small businesses make the most of our fantastic local talent and grow the economy.

“I grew up in an apprentice focused household, my dad running the apprenticeship training programme at aerospace firm Normalair Garrett and later at Agusta Westland (now Leonardo Helicopters).

“At its peak, the young people training on the job reached around 300.

“I witnessed their successes and the pride of their parents and have been a committed advocate of vocational training and apprenticeships ever since.

“If I am elected as the next MP for Glastonbury and Somerton, I will work tirelessly to ensure both smaller businesses as well as larger firms like Thales, Wessex Water, and Leonardo, all have the skilled work force available to them to grow and thrive.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added: “Growing up in my mum’s pharmacy, I know first-hand how important small businesses are.

“Not just for the economy, but as a driver for innovation and aspiration, and as the key to building a society where hard work is always recognised and rewarded.

“Whether it’s breaking down barriers and red tape for small businesses, helping businesses hire more young people into apprenticeships and skilled jobs or empowering women to start up their own businesses – this government is sticking to the plan and leaving no stone unturned to make the UK the best place to do business.

“Taken together, these measures will unlock a tidal wave of opportunity and make a real difference to businesses and entrepreneurs across the country.”

Commenting, Education Secretary Gillian Keegan also said: “This Government has built a world-leading apprenticeship system from the ground-up – with apprenticeship opportunities in almost 70 per cent of all occupations across the whole country.

“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for businesses to develop the skills they need, and for young people to access exciting career opportunities.

“Our plan to deliver a high-growth, high-skilled economy is working, with more opportunities available to young people than ever before.”