FE sector cuts will save just £60 million, minister reveals

Darren Evans

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Cuts to the adult skills budget and funding for English for speakers of other languages (Esol) provision will net the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis) £60 million in savings, it was revealed today.

In a letter to FE colleges, skills minister Nick Boles says the cuts, announced yesterday, will contribute £60 million (13 per cent) of the £450 million savings Bis has been asked to find by the Treasury.

Mr Boles writes: “I know that this will provide additional challenges for you but we have worked hard to minimise the impact and have secured these savings where possible from non-participation budgets and underspends.”

letter to the sector from the Skills Funding Agency yesterday revealed that funding for adult skills would be reduced by a further 3.9 per cent for the 2015-16 financial year. The body will also withdraw funding for Esol programmes for Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants with poor spoken English.

Mr Boles says that Bis has also secured up to £25 million to support the government’s commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships starts.

His letter comes as chancellor George Osborne has launched a spending review calling for £20 billion of cuts from Whitehall budgets. Mr Osborne told each unprotected department to draw up two sets of plans – for 25 per cent and 40 per cent cuts to their budgets by 2020.

Mr Boles’ letter also urges colleges to be “proactive” in taking part in area-based reviews of post-16 provision, which were announced yesterday.

Although colleges will take part in the reviews as independent institutions, Mr Boles says he expects all of them to take advantage of the opportunity “to consider the best structure to deliver for learners and employers in their areas”.

“I would urge institutions to be proactive in considering the policy statement and in assessing how you should participate in the process, which will encompass all FE colleges, not just those failing or under pressure,” he writes.

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Darren Evans

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