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Pistols drawn over Esol

With regard to last week's report, "Esol cuts `not thought through', claims Niace", I am reminded of what Wyatt Earp said after the gunfight at the OK Corral: "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything."

The Government will continue to fund Esol for those actively seeking work, when a poor grasp of English is a barrier to success. Taxpayers would not expect us to subsidise employers to recruit from abroad by covering language training costs. Since resources are short, it's surely right to focus funds on improving employment opportunities, settled communities and social cohesion.

The Government skills strategy, published in November following public consultation, was accompanied by an equality impact assessment. It found that policy changes are unlikely to disproportionately impact protected groups. Nevertheless, earlier this year I agreed to an additional assessment of changes to Esol, as I am anxious to ensure those who face particular challenges are not adversely affected.

John Hayes, Minister for further education, skills and lifelong learning.

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