Disabled access to cost Pounds 150m

COLLEGES need an extra Pounds 150 million over the next three years if they are to become accessible to disabled people, MPs heard this week.

Geoff Hall, director of funding and strategy at the Further Education Funding Council, said that poor access barred FE to disabled people. The figure was based on an accommodation survey carried out by the council.

Mr Hall was giving evidence to an education and employment select committee inquiry into opportunities for disabled people. MPs were also told that disabled people could lose out under the New Deal programme designed to help the jobless. Those choosing the FE option under the scheme would get less support than those who entered the sector by a more traditional route, said Sally Faraday, a disability specialist at the Further Education Development Agency. "Two individuals in the same classroom, on the same programme could be receiving different levels of support," she said.

The committee will continue to keep the spotlight on FE under its new chair, Malcolm Wicks. "FE is the critical link between education and employment. If we are to improve employability - including for those with disabilities - then further education will be vital," he said.

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