Shadow skills minister David Willetts will press for early legislation to establish a further education funding council to replace the recently created skills and young people's agencies, should the Conservatives win the general election.
Mr Willetts, who took part in a live webchat with FE Focus readers last Thursday, said he would hope to move fast before the new Skills Funding Agency and the Young People's Learning Agency, launched on April 1, had a chance to "put down roots".
In response to a question on waste in funding systems, Mr Willetts said: "I believe the funding system for FE is far too complex and can be made far simpler with a single funding agency and a per capita funding formula (with the obvious weightings) and flexibility for in-year virement (transfer) of funds."
He underlined the party's commitment to apprenticeships with a promise to do more to help small and medium-sized companies take on apprentices and to help all companies take on older apprentices.
"There is a real problem of companies being reluctant, especially in the 19 to 24 range. We will divert some of the money in Train to Gain to pay for this," he said.
WILLETTS DOWN THE WIRE: WEBCHAT HIGHLIGHTS
We saw the Conservatives force Labour to backtrack on many of their proposed school reforms. Would the (increasingly promising) Diplomas suffer the same fate under a Conservative government?
Tom Richmond, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
David Willetts (DW): We value the original diplomas. It is the extra ones added by Ed Balls as an alternative to A-levels which arouse our suspicions.
Will provisions for an FEFC (Further Education Funding Council) be laid down in an Education Bill expected in the Queen's speech?
Mark Corney, education consultant
DW: All I can say is, I will press for early legislation if we win.
How many members of the shadow cabinet have ever enrolled on a course at an FE college?
Spiz, FE Focus forums user
DW: What I do know is that my mother got day release from Cadbury's to go on on a college course which enabled her to become a teacher. I am a fan of what FE colleges do - and know how much more they could do if they were liberated from micro-management.