Funding bodies plan is a 'mess', say MPs

5th February 2010 at 00:00
MPs have criticised the creation of two new funding agencies for further education as "a bureaucratic mess" and questioned whether it would bring any benefits

During the first inquiry by the Business, Innovation and Skills select committee into FE, being hurriedly conducted before the general election, MPs said the new system would be inefficient and unwieldy.

Brian Binley, committee member and Tory MP for Northampton South, said: "I have never heard such a bureaucratic mess in all my life . I don't believe we will get agreement in time to make the decisions we need - it will be out of date by the time we've talked about it.

"We've got to cut out a mass of layers of organisation. Our job growth and our creativity are going to come from the small and medium enterprise sector. They don't work on a national level or a regional level - they work at a local level."

Peter Luff, committee chairman and a Conservative, said: "There are no savings. It's the same people doing the same job, wearing different hats and in different buildings, but more expensive."

Colleges and local authorities both had criticisms of the proposed system. Colleges protested that autonomy in budgeting should be given to all colleges unless they proved themselves unworthy, rather than just the top performers.

Martin Doel, the Association of Colleges' chief executive, questioned the wisdom of "throwing the whole organisational structure up in the air" when colleges were struggling with drastic changes to funding levels.

David Sparks, chairman of the Local Government Association's regeneration board, said councils wanted more power to be devolved locally, as is happening in Manchester and Leeds.

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