£9.4bn earmarked for new and refurbished primary schools and 300,000 apprenticeship places to be created

Chancellor Gordon Brown this week delivered a budget aimed at families, apprentices and first-time homebuyers.

In the education sector, the chancellor announced that he was extending the Schools for the Future initiative into the primary sector.

Brown said he was planning to invest a total of £9.4bn over the next five years. The Department for Education and Skills said that amounted to an additional £150m in 2008/9 and £500m in 2009/10.

Over the same period, £1.5bn will be expended on renovating and rebuilding further education colleges and centres for excellence.

Michael Ankers, the chief executive of the Construction Products Association, said: “We are pleased to see such high targets being set for primary school refurbishment and rebuilding. Although some of the money has already been allocated, the figure of 8900 schools is very welcome.”

The chancellor also unveiled measures to improve training across all industries. He set the target of offering 300,000 apprenticeship places nationwide by 2008. It is not clear how many of those places will be in construction.

The extra places are part of an £80m package aimed at engaging 16 to 17 year olds in work-based learning. Funding will be distributed over two years beginning in April 2006.

Brown said: “Every year, 150,000 16 and 17 year olds are in work but not in training. So building on the adult employer training programme and starting in eight areas, every young employee will be offered apprenticeships or college-based training.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Education and Skills said increasing the number of apprentice placements would be a major focus of the funding package.

Brown set the target of offering 300,000 apprenticeship places nationwide by 2008

He said: “The treasury is making £80m available to pilot new ways of engaging young people in learning, and the focus of this will be on young people in employment. A significant part of the funds will be used to buy extra apprenticeship provision.”

Brown then went on to announce two policies to move the sustainable communities agenda on and encourage up to 100,000 new home owners.

The government has struck a deal with the Council of Mortgage Lenders to set up a shared equity scheme so that the government takes a 25% stake in the homes of first-time buyers.

It also announced the mixed communities initiative, a pilot scheme that will regenerate nine of the most deprived council estates around the country by building new private housing in them.

The initiative, which is being led by the ODPM and Treasury through the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, will try to turn some of the worst areas in the country into sustainable communities.

An ODPM spokesperson said: “The initiative is in line with the government strategy that nobody should be discriminated against by where they live. But it’s a much more radical and intensive approach to transfer areas of severe deprivation into communities with mixed tenures.”

Three sites have already been picked: Harpurhey in Manchester, Gipton in Leeds and Canning Town in London. Six more areas will be released soon, and if the model proves successful it will be rolled out across the country.