Extra Budget cash welcomed, but...;FE Focus

20th March 1998 at 00:00
Colleges have called for an extra pound;700 million of Government money - on top of funding announced in the budget- to bring further education "out of crisis", writes Matt Rodda.

The Association of Colleges welcomed the extra funds announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown but said the additional cash was needed by 2002.

The non-teaching staff union, Unison, has also called for more money and urged ministers to provide pound;250 million immediately. And the National Council of Training and Enterprise Councils says more money was needed to improve the provision of training.

The Chancellor has pledged a total of pound;310m for further education and training to help tackle the skills shortage.

The share colleges can expect to win through bids for the New Deal and other Government initiatives amounts to one-third of the total cash allocated.

Some pound;100m will go to help tackle skills shortages and another pound;100m to extend the New Deal to the long-term unemployed over 25, generating 70,000 new training places of which colleges can expect a substantial share.

There will be another pound;60m to help partners of the unemployed to find work and pound;50m to help provide careers advice and training support for the young homeless.

Sue Dutton, acting chief executive of the Association of Colleges, welcomed the cash but said much more was needed.

"The association is asking for an extra pound;360 million now rising to pound;700 million by 2002 to bring the sector out of crisis, " she said. "The association means to help this Government's policies succeed but to do that we need help. Further education is too important to remain poorly funded.

"We recognise the funding realities for the Government but we know that colleges cannot continue as they are.

"Despite recent help over 60 per cent of our members are now trading at a loss and the Government's own funding council says one in five colleges are in a weak financial situation."

A spokeswoman for Unison said the union welcomed the expansion of Welfare to Work. But she said: "Further education is going to play a key role in the New Deal and needs a bigger cash boost, it needs pound;250m extra to bring FE up to the challenge of being part of the New Deal and to help provide the expansion of life long learning. FE is going to be pivotal but it needs to be well funded in order to do that."

A spokesman for the TEC National Council said: "We welcome the expansion of the New Deal and in particular the extra funding for the crucial first stage of this, when people make the move from unemployment to employment."

The TECs were also pleased more money had been allocated to help the long-term jobless and their partners.

The spokesman added: "Naturally these projects could always use more and more funding but we recognise that the Government has many priorities."

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