Philip Hammond has had to defend the government’s record on further education after a Labour MP accused him of not providing “a single penny” for colleges in his recent budget.
Labour MP Wes Streeting challenged the chancellor of the exchequer in a heated exchange during a Commons Treasury Select Committee hearing following the budget last week.
Mr Streeting accused the government of having “no vision” for FE or lifelong learning. He added: “We have a growing population, an ageing population and technological change that is going to dramatically change the workforce.
“So the fact that we have a further education funding system that’s about to topple over, no vision for further education and lifelong learning whatsoever from this government and not a single penny for further education in this budget – that makes me angry too. Where is your focus on further education?”
'It can't happen overnight'
Responding to Mr Streeting, a former president of the NUS students’ union, Mr Hammond said the government was investing in T levels and a National Retraining Scheme.
He added: “In relation to further education, as you know we have introduced T levels, we’ve put funding into the process of delivering T levels, but this is not an overnight process. It can’t happen overnight. It’s taking time to develop it and it will take time to implement but it will be a very significant change in the way we deliver technical education at 16 to 19.
“£500 million of additional of additional commitment significantly increasing the contact hours of learners and learning the lessons from successful systems elsewhere in the world – in Scandinavia, in Germany, in North America – to make sure we have the skills available to support the technological revolution in the future.
“So we absolutely are committed to the skills agenda both at that age group and those in later life with the first £100 million now committed to the national retraining scheme.”