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Correcting a pound;2bn mistake

It was kind of you to report my speech to the Learning and Skills Development Agency summer conference so extensively. I hope you will not mind my correcting your article.

I did not say that the sector needed "an extra pound;2 billion a year until 2010". What I did say was that achieving our objectives of a 90 per cent-plus participation rate of 16 to 18-year-olds in 2010 would require an additional 300,000 places. This, in turn, would need an extra pound;2bn (at current prices over the existing baseline) in that year.

Your correspondent, quite logically, worked back from this starting point but sadly arrived at the wrong answer. He assumed that an extra pound;2bn would be needed every year. This, of course, would only be true if we were to achieve a 90 per cent-plus participation rate immediately. Sadly, we are not going to do that.

To put the record straight, we need a graded increase from the present level of funding, recognising that there needs to be some prior investment, until 2010 when we will need pound;2bn more than the current baseline.

John Harwood Chief executive

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