Budget reaction does not add up

26th March 2004 at 00:00
A Liberal Democrat post-Budget press release said the absence of any mention of further education was the "most glaring ommission" by Chancellor Gordon Brown.

"So why is it ignored?" asks an incredulous Phil Willis, the party's education spokesman.

Why indeed?! In an attempt to remind myself of the party's tireless campaigning on behalf of FE, I looked up all the press releases it has put out over the past couple of months on this most neglected of subjects. Of the emails I could find, plenty were about post-16 education - well, university education. I quote: "Top-up-fees: Time for Labour MPs to stand up and be counted," said one. "Top-up fees threatens (sic) future supply of teachers," says another. "Top-up fees blamed for global warming," says a third. OK, I made that one up. But you catch my drift.

Universities are a big issue for the Lib Dems. They worried, for example, about how top-up fees would affect students taking a gap year. And, apparently, some graduates are so hard up that they cannot afford to buy a house straight after university.

So how many press releases were specifically about FE, the sector which the Lib Dems say is ignored in the Budget, over the same period? Er, none.

Still, it's the thought that counts.

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