Free Bus Travel Vow For Apprentices

25 March 2015, 12:32 | Updated: 25 March 2015, 12:55

Up to 40,000 apprentices in Scotland would be offered free bus travel to get to work under a Labour Government, according to Scottish leader Jim Murphy.

Mr Murphy said his party would also invest more than £100 million in Scotland's colleges to reverse a fall in the number of students.

The pledges form part of a £1 billion investment in Scotland's "young working-class'' he set out during a speech in the City of London.

The package of promises will be funded by UK Labour's plans to reintroduce a tax on bankers' bonuses and cut pension tax relief for those on high incomes.

Mr Murphy said far too many young people faced low earnings and high debt and struggled to secure a career and a home.

He said: "Every time I meet young apprentices I ask them what we can do to help them and they reply that one of the biggest pressures of getting to work is the cost of travel.

"If you were on the apprentice minimum wage you could spend two hours a day working just to afford the bus fare to and from work.

"So today I can announce we will offer free bus travel to all apprentices in Scotland. A financial boost for as many as 40,000 young people.

"A previous Tory Government told our young people to get on their bikes and search for work, a Labour Government will pay for them to get the bus to their work.''

Mr Murphy said Labour would invest in colleges using additional funding through the Barnett Formula, the mechanism used to allocate Treasury funds to the devolved governments.

He said: "The number of students in Scottish colleges fell by over 100,000 at the very time when the labour market demanded investment in skills.

"So I can announce today that Labour will begin to undo that damage on our colleges, our workforce and our economy.

"We will invest more than #100 million more in Scotland's colleges over the next parliament, starting to roll back the cuts made in recent years.''

The £1 billion package also includes Labour's Scottish Jobs Guarantee, which Mr Murphy said will end long-term youth unemployment.

About 5,000 young Scots aged 18-24 will be eligible for the jobs guarantee in the first year of the scheme.

Other measures include a £1,000 increase in bursaries for Scottish students, a "future fund'' worth £1,600 for every 18 and 19-year-old in work and free university tuition.

The future fund, unveiled at Scottish Labour's spring conference, will provide teenagers who do not go to university with #1,600 to spend on what they "need to get on in life''.