Conservative MP: FE 'worst hit' by funding cuts

Fellow Tory MPs rally against cuts to college budgets and call for a debate on funding for further education

Tes Reporter

Philip Davies, a Conservative MP, has urged party colleagues in government to increase FE funding

Funding for further education colleges has been the "worst hit" of all the education system, a Tory MP has said.

Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, spoke in the House of Commons and called on the government to provide more money for colleges in his West Yorkshire constituency.

Fellow Conservative Anne Main, MP for St Albans in Hertfordshire, was among a string of members raising concerns about FE funding, saying: "Post-16 and special educational needs are absolutely suffering and we've got to look at this in the spending review."

Skills minister Anne Milton acknowledged that the sector "faces significant challenges". She said: "We are putting in £500 million of disadvantage funding, £127 million of discretionary bursary funding. There has been money going in, but I am aware of the fact that the base rate for 16- to 19-year-olds, although it has been protected, that still leaves the FE sector with challenges moving ahead."

Hinds: FE needs to be 'properly funded'

Education secretary Damian Hinds said: "Clearly we need to have further education properly funded and, indeed, all 16-18 or 16-19 provision properly funded."

Speaking during education questions, Mr Davies said: "We certainly need more money for schools in my constituency, but would the minister [Ms Milton] accept that the funding for further education colleges has been the worst hit of all the parts of the education system? And can she give my constituents some assurances that there will be more money for Shipley College and Bradford College in the very near future?"

Ms Main said she wanted a backbench business debate on education funding, adding: "There are so many colleagues across the House all telling the same narrative. It is vital that we look at this, especially for pupils with special educational needs."

Ms Milton replied: "I think there has been a focus over the last 15 to 20 years on higher education and I think it is great to see members across this House all campaigning for their local colleges."

Milton: FE colleges face 'challenges'

Shadow education minister Gordon Marsden argued that the "chancellor's failed FE's hopes massively in his Budget" and Theresa May "replied complacently" when questioned at Prime Minister's Questions.

He said funding for 16-19 had fallen and the sector needed more money, adding: "So will the minister get the education secretary now to pledge, to tell the chancellor that increased FE funding in the spending review is his top priority and keep at it and not take no for an answer?"

Ms Milton replied: "The secretary of state is very aware because I have not ceased to point it out to him the challenges that FE colleges face."

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