Further education in the community affected by the Grenfell Tower disaster will receive up to £32.3 million in funding from the government, it has been announced.
The funds will support the recovery of Kensington and Chelsea College, including the merger with Morley College, and also help to buy and refurbish Kensington and Chelsea College’s North Kensington campus so students can access high-quality further education. The campus is currently owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The funding will be provided by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
Background: College facing £6m deficit plans to cut jobs
College recovery after Grenfell
KCC has faced significant financial challenges recently. In March, it was announced the college was working towards a merger with Morley College. The plans would lead to the colleges joining together as Morley College London, with three main centres in North Kensington, Chelsea and Waterloo.
The proposed merger is designed to secure and improve the Wornington Road Kensington Centre after years of uncertainty about its future while maintaining and developing provision at college centres in Chelsea and Waterloo.
And in May, board minutes from Kensington and Chelsea College (KCC) showed that the college had to revise its forecast deficit for this year – from £4.4 million to £6 million. Campaigners from the Save Wornington College campaign hit out at plans to save £1.5 million through what they call “brutal restructuring plans” in a “crisis" they said was threatening the college's survival.
Today's support package will assist the community's recovery following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the government has said.
Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said: “The Grenfell Tower fire was a terrible tragedy and its impact will be felt by the local community for many years ahead. This funding will support the planned merger between Kensington and Chelsea College and Morley College so local people can get the high-quality further education and training they need."
She added: “We will continue to work in close partnership with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; and the Greater London Authority to support this important merger and to secure the long-term recovery of the college. It is good to see everyone working across government to make sure that Grenfell residents get much-needed support.”
'The support they deserve'
Communities secretary James Brokenshire added: “It is essential that, two years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, the people of North Kensington continue to get the support they deserve to help them rebuild their lives. This includes access to good quality further education and training at the heart of their community. It is right that we have stepped in to help secure the future of Kensington and Chelsea College and the Wornington Road site.”
Nick Hurd, the minister responsible for supporting Grenfell victims, said: "After the horror of the Grenfell disaster, we wanted to help build hope and opportunity in a community that has suffered so much. This decision is an important step in securing a vibrant future for a much-loved community asset. A big collective effort went into making this happen, and I pay tribute in particular to a passionate residents' campaign.”
Andy Cole, principal of Kensington and Chelsea College, said: “We greatly welcome this investment, which will support substantial and ongoing educational provision for the communities of Kensington and Chelsea. Our board and leadership will examine the full implications for the future of the college, in the context of the proposed merger with Morley College, over coming days. Both colleges remain committed to a successful outcome of our plans to secure high-quality further education in the borough.”
On 14 June 2017 a fire broke out in Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey block of flats in North Kensington, resulting in 72 deaths.