At a time when the Government is committed to a major investment in public capital investment as a way of supporting the economy and Harriet Harman is seeking to introduce new legislation to promote equality in the public sector, I believe the FE capital debacle is damaging to the Government's ambitions. This must especially be the case with the next general election looming.
While the problem has been made far worse by the Learning and Skills Council's continued approval of schemes regardless of the funding actually available, this should also be set against other significant injustices to our sector, including no free school meals for FE students, the requirement to pay VAT and the funding gap for carrying out identical work as school sixth forms. Even if capital is available, the support for colleges is almost always well below that received for schools, often as little as 10 per cent against the 100 per cent given for the schools sector.
It is particularly sad that such inequality of treatment exists in Lancashire, where five out of six young people study in FE as opposed to the school sector.
Ian Clinton, Principal and chief executive, Blackburn College, Lancashire.