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Forced to cut jobs

An increase in funding from the LSC is all very well. But for St Helen's college, in Merseyside, the financial equation includes a sharp decline in European "directive one" money. Moreover, funding for work-based training - of which it does a lot - will only rise at the rate of inflation.

The result is that principal Pat Bacon has had to make hard decisions and cut 50 jobs. "We've lost 22 people through voluntary redundancy and the rest are posts we had to take out that we wanted to fill," she said. While mourning the loss of talent, she says unions have "understood the issues".

She's optimistic the college will end 20023 with a small surplus and that 20034 "looks OK" providing enrolment hits targets.

But this year there will be little innovation. "They've taken out funding for development of new things - and we survive on being innovative," she says. "If you're strapped for cash you have to concentrate on the here and now." She has her fingers crossed for college audits which "are robust in the extreme". "There's always the chance that something unexpected may be picked up," she says.

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