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Monday, 3 April, 2000, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Boost for basic skills
variety of coins
Some adults are unable to count their change
A scheme to help adults who lack simple skills was unveiled on Monday.

The Adult Basic Skills Strategy Unit will spearhead the government's drive to help those with poor literacy and numeracy.

The unit, announced by the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, will be based in London. Its staff will be responsible for directing the national basic skills strategy, working closely with basic skills officers in 47 areas of the country.

Mr Blunkett said around seven million people in the UK were unable to look up a plumber in the Yellow Pages or work out the change they should get from a few small purchases.

'Huge difference'

He said: "Poor literacy and numeracy is one of the major causes of unemployment, low pay and other forms of disadvantage.

"Helping adults gain these skills will make a huge difference to their lives."

The unit will start work this summer, ahead of a full national basic skills strategy later in the year.

Last year, a working group chaired by Sir Claus Moser, Chairman of the Basic Skills Agency, published a report on the standards of adult basic skills.

The report indicated that one fifth of adults in Egnland had severe problems with basic literacy and numeracy, and called for a "national crusade" to tackle the problem.

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