Union Learning Fund cut: Williamson 'won't apologise'

Education secretary defends scrapping fund which, he tells MPs, 'channelled money into the TUC'
12th October 2020, 3:53pm

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Union Learning Fund cut: Williamson 'won't apologise'

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/union-learning-fund-cut-williamson-wont-apologise
Gavin Williamson: "i Won't Apologise For Union Learning Fund'

Gavin Williamson has told the House of Commons today that he will "not apologise" for scrapping the Union Learning Fund. 

As Tes revealed last week, the Union Learning Fund, managed by the Trade Union Congress, is to be scrapped in March 2021. The fund is worth £11 million and currently supports 250,000 workers a year to access learning. 

When asked today by shadow education secretary Kate Green about the decision to scrap the fund, Mr Williamson said: "I will not apologise that if we think we can spend money that previously [had] been channelled to the TUC in a better way to deliver more opportunities in our colleges, yes we will do it and we will do it in a better way."

He added: "The reality is that we are investing more in skills and further education than ever before. That is why we are investing over £1.5 billion pounds in capital and further education. That's why we're investing more in level 3 A-level equivalent qualifications. That's why we're driving opportunities forward."


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News of the cut came just a week after prime minister Boris Johnson announced a "skills guarantee" for adult learners. 

At the time, Kevin Rowan, head of organisation, services and skills at the TUC, said that the news "has come completely out of the blue and is, in my view, completely unjustifiable".

Today, Ms Green said that getting rid of the fund "must be either astonishing incompetence or playing shameless politics with people's life chances".

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