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Anger at Pounds 1m cash plan for London

Funding chiefs have been asked to rethink plans to give London colleges up to Pounds 1 million a year extra cash after being accused of using misleading figures to assess the needs of the capital.

Discontent over the proposed extra cash for London grew this week, with one chair of governors in the west country warning that it could spark a "rebellion".

The latest twist concerns data used by the Further Education Funding Council to calculate London weighting needs. The council told a FEFC committee, the London Costs Working Group, that 40 per cent of London organisations paid at least Pounds 3,000 allowance per staff member.

The group was told comparisons had been made with education, health and similar public sector services. Officers drew particular attention to a study by the independent Income Data Services.

But The TES can reveal that the full IDS report says: "Just over two-fifths of the companies in our Record Section pay an inner London allowance of Pounds 3,000 a year or more. Most of these are in the finance sector."

The revelations have fuelled protests by non-London colleges which will have to share the cost. Raymon Kenny, chair of governors at East Devon College, has written to David Melville, FEFC chief executive, and to MPs rejecting the way the extra costs were calculated.

"Such a bizarre reasoning beggars belief and could well provoke a rebellion form colleges outside London," he wrote. "London colleges may deserve an increase, but so do many others."

Protests about the proposed extra cash, to be decided by the FEFC next week, has already come from rural colleges. Last week, 11 West Midlands colleges joined the fray, sending a letter of protest to Professor Melville.

A confidential paper to the FEFC tariff advisory committee, seen by The TES, shows that while a range of evidence was considered in drawing up the recommendations, the IDS data was the key element.

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