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Nick Clegg speaks to ITV News Central about apprenticeships and school dinners

The Midlands is recognised as the manufacturing heart of the country, with companies such as Rolls Royce, Bombardier, and Toyota among those helping to cement that reputation.

Today the Deputy Prime Nick Clegg was in the Midlands promoting apprenticeships. Earlier he came into our studios and we began our interview by asking him why apprenticeships are so important.

  1. National

Benefits Street star in election bid

James Turner Street in Birmingham where Benefits Street was filmed. Credit: PA

One of the stars of controversial reality TV show Benefits Street says she will run for Parliament as an independent candidate after a "patronising" response from a sitting MP.

Deirdre Kelly, also known as "White Dee", shot to fame on Channel 4's Benefits Street which followed a series of people living on social security in James Turner Street in the Winson Green area of Birmingham.

Writing in this week's Spectator, she said she was inspired when her daughter showed her a newspaper article where her chances of political success were written off.

She said: "The fuss about Benefits Street means Ladbrokes has made me 50-1 to be the next MP for Birmingham Ladywood, and until I read that patronising nonsense I wasn't going to stand. Now, I think I will."

Channel 4 has announced plans for a new series of the hit show but it will not be filmed in Birmingham.

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Nick Clegg invited to visit "Benefits Street" by resident

"White Dee" (right) has invited Nick Clegg to visit her road where "Benefits Street" is filmed Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

One of the stars of "Benefits Street" has invited Nick Clegg to the Birmingham road where the programme is filmed, saying residents would love him to pay a visit.

Deirdre Kelly, known on the programme as White Dee, told the Deputy Prime Minister on his weekly LBC 97.3 show he would be "very welcome."

Nick Clegg holds a weekly phone-in show on LBC 97.3 Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

"He would see a very clean street, he would see people getting together helping each other, people not scrounging, not lying around, children at school, so he'd have to come after school finishes."

Mr. Clegg admitted he had not yet seen the programme.

Mr Clegg, asked if he would take up the invitation to James Turner Street in Winson Green, said: "I'd love to meet Dee, but I'm not on-air going to make promises that I'm going to turn up on your street Dee."

National Express workers welcome Nick Clegg

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stopped to chat with National Express workers as he took a tour of the firm's Birmingham base.

Nick Clegg chats to National Express workers Credit: ITV News Central

Mr Clegg visited the company to launch 25 new apprenticeship positions, doubling the number of trainees at the firm to 50.

The Deputy PM was visiting to help launch 25 more apprenticeships Credit: ITV News Central

Nick Clegg visits Birmingham to launch apprenticeships

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is visiting Birmingham today to help launch a new recruitment drive for Midland travel firm National Express.

The company is doubling the number of apprentices on its books to 50 next year.

The apprentices at National Express Credit: ITV News Central

During his visit, Mr Clegg has been shown the skills being developed by the company's existing 25 apprentices, who undergo a four-year training programme.

This includes working across the full range of engineering skills - including bodywork, electrical, maintenance and refurbishment.

They then pick a specialism in their final two years.

Toyota lands £6.3 million windfall to develop new vehicles

Car-making giant Toyota has landed a £6.3 million cash windfall to help it develop a new generation of vehicles.

The money is part of the Regional Growth Fund - a government scheme designed to create and safeguard jobs.

Today the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, visited the Toyota plant to confirm the news. But as Phil Brewster reports, some people have questioned whether the project gives value for money.

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Pharmaceuticals company creates 30 new jobs

A pharmaceuticals company in Nottingham says it has created 30 new jobs as a result of the Government's Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

Molecular Profiles won a £1.6m grant in the first allocation of the Growth Fund in 2010, the money was used to build new research and development facilities.

Chief Executive Nikin Patel says the total number of new jobs created could be as many as 60 by the time the project is finished.

The list of companies receiving money in the fourth and final round of RGF awards has been announced today. Responding the criticism of the scheme, Mr Patel said:

"More recently we've had bad news stories with the likes of AstraZeneca closing their plant in Loughborough and other pharmaceutical companies downsizing in the region, so there was a threat of a significant loss of good talent to the region.

"Companies are growing, are creating jobs so to support companies like this is very important."

PICTURE: Deputy PM at Toyota plant to announce grant

Nick Clegg at the Toyota plant at Burnaston in Derbyshire. Credit: ITV News Central

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is holding a Q&A session with workers at the Toyota plant at Burnaston in Derbyshire.

It is one of more than 100 organisations in England to receive cash from the Government to boost jobs and fuel business expansion.

Nick Clegg is at the factory in Burnaston today to announce a £6.3 million grant.

What is the Government's Regional Growth Fund?

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will be at Toyota in Derbyshire today to announce a Regional Growth Fund of £6.3 million.

  • The Regional Growth Fund (RGF) is a fund created to safeguard jobs, it supports projects and programmes that are using private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment
  • The first three rounds of the RGF have supported specific sectors such as: aerospace, automotive, energy and life sciences
  • At the latest Spending Round the Treasury announced £600 million funding for the RGF in both 2015-16 and 2016-17 to support projects to create economic growth and maintain private sector employment

Nick Clegg: Toyota will use the money to 'secure jobs'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Regional Growth Fund is "all about" creating jobs.

Since 2010, the Coalition Government has created 1.3 million jobs in the private sector, he added.

The Regional Growth Fund is exactly what this country needs to go for growth - from family-run Cartwright Group in Manchester who are now expanding to create 300 jobs and train up to 30 apprentices every year for the next three years, to Toyota who will use the money to help increase their ability to develop and produce new generations of Toyota cars right here in the UK, securing jobs and creating opportunities for the future.

– Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
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