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Chancellor discussing the budget

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The Chancellor @RishiSunak delivered the Autumn #budget and #SpendingReview today (Wednesday 27th October 2021), with a huge focus on levelling up and how the Government wants to level up the country and a new economy post covid, with higher wages and higher skills. The chancellor shared a few updates on the impact of Covid on the economy. The OBR expected the economy to return to pre-covid levels at the turn of the year. Back in July 2021, the OBR predicted an unemployment peak of potentially 12%, and the OBR has now adjusted this and now predicts a peak of 5.2%, which means 2 Million fewer people out of work as a result. The Chancellor stating that the Plan for Jobs is working.  

Delivering the Budget and Spending Review, Rishi Sunak set out a plan to invest in stronger public services, with total departmental spending growing by £150 billion a year in cash terms by 2024-25, a £90 billion real-terms increase, which is the largest real-terms increase in overall departmental spending for any Parliament this century.

Rishi Sunak 100x100Delivering the Budget and Spending Review in Parliament, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

“Today’s Budget delivers a stronger economy for the British people: stronger growth, with the UK economy recovering faster than our major competitors. Stronger public finances, with our national debt finally under control. Stronger employment, with fewer people out of work and more people in work.

“Growth up, jobs up, and debt down: let there be no doubt – our plan is working”.

Additional funding

An additional £630 Million funding was announced to tackle rough sleeping. £150 Million was announced for training and development for the Early Years workforce. An additional £2 Billion in funding was also announced for Education Recovery for education recovery for schools and colleges (to now nearly £5 Billion).  

Multiply to increase numeracy and basic maths for adults in the UK

Rishi Sunak also announced a new £560 Million fund called Multiply to increase numeracy and basic maths for adults in the UK. Up to 500,000 people will benefit from Multiply with improved basic numeracy skills through free personal tutoring, digital training, and flexible courses. More than 8 million adults in England have numeracy skills lower than those expected of a 9-year-old with the North East, West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber worst affected. And by the age of 30, people with poor numeracy skills are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their peers.

Additional £4.7 billion will be invested in the core schools budget in England

To support pupils and teachers, an additional £4.7 billion will be invested in the core schools budget in England, over and above the SR19 settlement for schools in 2022-23 – in addition to £1.8 billion of new money for education recovery and catch-up over the next three years.

£6 billion of funding for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over the next three years to help people earn more and gain the right skills

Building on the success of the Plan for Jobs, the Budget and Spending Review will continue supporting people into work with over £6 billion of funding for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over the next three years to help people earn more and gain the right skills.

To boost wages and prospects for all, skills funding will increase by a total over the parliament of £3.8 billion compared to 2019-20. This will quadruple the number of places on Skills Bootcamps, expand the offer on free Level 3 qualifications and launch the new Multiply scheme to improve numeracy skills across the UK for up to 500,000 adults.   

To ensure that work pays, the government is increasing the National Living Wage to £9.50 from April 2022, cutting the Universal Credit taper rate from 63p to 55p and increasing Universal Credit work allowances by £500 per year.

Investing in growth:

To spread opportunity across all of the UK, the government is putting its Plan for Growth into action with significant investment in innovation and skills.

To create the high-wage, high-skilled jobs of the future, public R&D investment will increase to record levels of £20 billion by 2024-25. Combined with R&D tax reliefs – which are going to be modernised and refocused – total UK Government R&D support as a proportion of GDP is forecasted to increase from 0.7% in 2018 to 1.1% in 2024-25 – well above the 2018 OECD average of 0.7%.

A new UK Global Talent Network will work with businesses and research institutes to identify and attract the best global talent in key science and tech sectors.

Delivering for all parts of the UK:

The government will make levelling up a reality across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by providing UK-wide support in critical areas, while also targeting action to meet local needs.

Many of today’s announcements will directly benefit people across the UK. This Spending Review also provides an additional £8.7 billion per year to the devolved administrations through the Barnett formula – leading to the highest annual funding settlements since devolution in 1998:

  • the Scottish Government will benefit from a £4.6 billion per year funding boost
  • the Welsh Government a £2.5 billion per year funding boost
  • the Northern Ireland Executive a £1.6 billion per year funding boost

Back on Saturday 23rd Oct the Treasury Team made some teaser announcements of what would be coming in the upcoming budget, the most interesting for FE, Skills and Employability was the announcement around: The Skills Revolution being set to continue with £3 Billion boost set to be announced in the budget. Which isn't an insignificant amount of funding! With:

  • £3 billion investment to build a high wage, high skill economy building on the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.
  • Life changing opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people to get the skills they want.
  • Investment in 16 to 19-year-olds doubled and the number of skills bootcamps quadrupled.

Sector Reaction to the Budget and Spending Review

David Gallagher 100x100David Gallagher, Chief Executive Officer at NCFE, responding to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget and Spending Review, said:

“Today’s Budget marks a significant step forward for Further Education.

“The Chancellor’s commitment to invest in a skills-led recovery is very welcome news. We need high quality vocational and technical training options to deliver a stronger and more vibrant economy.

“The Government’s pledge to boost T Levels as a flagship vocational alternative to A Levels is particularly encouraging and the investment in skills bootcamps is another step in the right direction. But as with any new programme, we must build on the evidence of what works and can work in our rapidly changing world and labour market, if we are to deliver the best possible outcomes for learners and the economy.

“NCFE has long been calling for a re-balancing of the curriculum so that people are empowered and equipped to make the best possible choices about their futures. We will support the Government in creating more opportunities for individuals to thrive through world-class technical skills provision.” 

Rae Tooth 100x100Reacting to the Autumn Budget Statement, announced today (27 October 2021) by the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak MP, Rae Tooth, chief executive of Villiers Park Education Trust said:

“The Chancellor is still playing catch-up on levelling up.  Today’s long-awaited statement offers some encouragement about how this government intends to tackle education inequality, but it does not go far enough and as always the devil will be in the detail.

“The Chancellor was right to say that a good education was the birth right of every child, and we welcome the news that the Holiday Activities & Food Programme will continue.  The government’s commitment to increase places for young people with special educational needs is also to be welcomed.

“But if this government is serious about levelling up life chances then it must act with urgency to close the educational attainment gap.  The news that per pupil funding for schools in England will return to 2010 levels in real terms is welcome, but it is young people who have borne the brunt of those cuts over the last decade.  And today’s increase in the education recovery fund, bringing the total amount up to £5bn still falls far short of what the former catch-up tsar Sir Kevan Collins called for.”

david hughes 100 x100Responding to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak's announcement in the Autumn Budget to provide £800 million for education recovery, Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, representing over 93% of England's further education colleges, David Hughes said

Association of Colleges responds to Autumn Budget and CSR 2021

“It’s clear that the Chancellor and this Government recognise that more investment in skills is vital for economic growth and their levelling up ambitions. So it is disappointing that despite lots of warm words about the importance of skills, and a long list of separate funding pots, overall investment does not look like it is going up by much at all. A world class skills system needs more investment than this after more than a decade of cuts. Good rhetoric about skills will not level up the country - colleges will do that with the right investment.

"Government’s consistent refusal to increase the funding per student post-16 is baffling. The funding per adult will not have gone up in 14 years by the end of 2024/25, unlike in schools where per pupil funding will match 2010/11 levels in real terms.

"There were some wins for young people and adults which are important to recognise. 16 to19-year-olds were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and have the least amount of time to get back on track, so the announcement of an education recovery package is to be welcomed. We will now spend time working with DfE on making sure that this is a real, meaningful investment and goes to where it is needed the most. 

"Increased access to, and funding for, level 3 qualifications and T Levels can only be a good thing, but not everybody will be able to access them or be ready for that level of study and many will need re-training which is not funded properly. That results in a worrying amount of people falling through the cracks who need better support to be able to get ready to even start a level 3 in the first place. We saw no real support for them today. 

‘A stronger economy for the British people’ will ring hollow without addressing the very real challenges still facing the education and skills system. A levelled up country needs levelled up colleges that are adequately supported and invested in to deliver the skills for economic prosperity.”

kirstie donnelly 100x100Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds Group commented: 

“Whilst we welcome the Chancellor’s spending package for professional and technical education, we need more clarity over whether the Chancellor’s commitments to the sector are new, or merely a rehash of funding that was already allocated and sold to us as something ‘new’. With a million jobs left unfilled (along with our supermarket shelves and petrol tanks) there is too much at stake to get this wrong.” 

“Undoubtedly, some solid foundations have been put into place in terms of T Levels and Apprenticeships, but make no mistake there is still significant work to be done. For starters, if T Levels are to succeed they will need young people to choose to study them. This will require a significant amount of support from Government over the next few years to promote them to young people, their parents and teachers alike, and convince them of the life changing benefits they could bring. 

“Additionally, we still don’t have a skills system set up to meet the needs of adults who will need to constantly upskill and reskill over five-decade careers. The Chancellor may have pledged investment in bricks and mortar colleges, but in a world that’s becoming increasingly digital, as we proposed in our Spending Review submission, we need to act now to introduce more short-term flexible and modular solutions such as our Skills Bridges to help fill key roles and ensure that people of all ages and at all stages of their careers are able to upskill and reskill. 

 “What we’re still not seeing is a comprehensive long-term strategy, that connects the dots of careers advice, pre and post 16 education and employment to local labour market needs and creates longer term growth and productivity.” 

Stephen Evans LW 100x100Following today’s Spending Review, Stephen Evans, chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, an independent think tank dedicated to lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion, said:

 "It's good to see investment in skills rising again after a lost decade of cuts. However, it looks like this only restores some of the previous cuts and so won't be enough to transform Britain into a skills superpower. We need more detail on both levels of investment and how money will be spent.

 "The large cut to the Universal Credit taper rate and rise in the minimum wage are hugely welcome and will help low income households. But there's more to do on the on the cost of living and supporting people to move into work to tackle the 900,000 shortfall in workers we've identified; the Plan for Jobs is working but there's so much more to do."

The skills trade body ‘The Association of Employment and Learning Providers’ has responded to the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 with cautious optimism. The government’s focus around the skills agenda has been appreciated. We certainly welcome any investment which will help reach ambitions to get people into good quality, well-paid sustainable work.

AELP welcome further funding for traineeships and four-fold investment in bootcamps. Both offer a great blend of skills and employability. However, we must not lose sight of the 9 million adults who lack basic functional skills. The new Multiply programme for adult numeracy should help to address this, however we equally need investment in numeracy and support in place for those who lack basic digital skills.

AELP also welcome investment in the level 3 adult offer. However, "levelling up" will be nothing more than hollow rhetoric without proper investment in level 2 and below skills provision. For many learners and across many industries, level 2 and below qualifications are the first rung on the ladder of opportunity.

Jane Hickie 20Dec 100x100Jane Hickie, Chief Executive of AELP said

“The Chancellor has used the Autumn Budget and Spending Review as an opportunity to substantially invest in skills. This is welcome and necessary, if we are to have any hope of building back better following the pandemic. I particularly welcome investment in apprenticeships, traineeships and employability programmes. This focus on vocational learning will help get people of all ages and at every level into good quality training and work. However, it is clear there remains a real lack of parity in treatment of different FE provider types. Independent training providers have been left out of education catch- up funding and capital investment, both of which are only available to schools and colleges. This is disappointing, given the important role independent training providers play in supporting employers and learners”.

Alice Barnard100x100Alice Barnard, Chief Executive of Edge Foundation said:

“This Spending Review saw much rhetoric around “world class public services” and investing in a “high wage, high skilled economy”. While we’re pleased to see the Government’s increased funding commitment to education at the Spending Review, there are gaps that must be addressed. Firstly, while £3.8 billion for a skills revolution is welcome, we also need to see more support for Level 2. Secondly, while a £2.7 billion increase for apprenticeships is needed, this must be more carefully targeted towards 16-24 year olds and pre-apprenticeship programmes. And finally, while support for T-levels is welcome – we cannot simply create a binary system that forces learners to choose between academic and vocational. Instead, let’s #protectstudentchoice by safeguarding valued standalone vocational qualifications. We need to see a bolder long term vision that turns rhetoric into tangible action.”

Patrick McGrath, Head of Education Strategy at The Texthelp Group comments on T-Levels: 

“The Government has announced today a further £1.6bn over three years to roll out new T-levels for 16 to 19-year-olds and £550m for adult skills in England. Further education has been an often overlooked sector for funding and specialist support - it has undergone many reviews, and has never had the focus, attention and funding it deserves or needs. 

This funding is very welcome, and a significant start to revamping and re-energising the sector. The overhaul to T-levels and move from BTEC makes huge sense in the world we now live in - giving a mix of skills and experience focus, and as a qualification I’m hopeful it will deliver a very holistic set of qualifications. 

It’s imperative though that we consider how blended learning will fit into this - if we are to focus on skills for now and the future workforce, digital skills and the ability to learn and develop flexibly must be of paramount consideration. This funding gives the sector the ability to transform qualification standards, and for this particular age group make learning more relevant, attainment more possible and will help retain the direct links from work to learning that colleges have traditionally been fantastic at.” 

Patrick continues on SEND Funding:

“The Government is committing £2.6bn to be spent on creating new school places for children with special needs and disabilities. The pandemic has raised awareness around special needs and disabilities (SEND), and this funding will help secure the specialist need for support and education frameworks, to help more than we have ever helped before. 

The vast increase in usage of assistive technology suggests the population of SEND students is higher than previously thought. Many have unidentified needs, but with their own individual challenges. This is perhaps the biggest challenge - deciding who gets the support? Just 3.7% of SEND pupils have a ‘plan’ for support. 

The recent funding will help with wider access initiatives, such as promoting assistive technology within schools and workplace, and raising awareness and standards for web accessibility.”


KevinCourtney100x100Commenting on the Government’s Spending Review and the Chancellor’s Budget Statement, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

"Today, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak had a historic opportunity to value education and value educators. Despite his rhetoric he has failed. 

“The aspiration of 'levelling up' is a good one but Government policy on education is achieving the opposite. As the Public Accounts Committee noted last week, education funding policy is driving money away from areas with greater relative need. Today’s announcement will not remove those inequalities. The Chancellor is also still determined that education recovery will be done on the cheap. This short-sightedness will damage the life chances of young people for many years to come. 

“Today’s announcements fall far short of what is needed to tackle the scourge of child poverty. 4.3 million children were growing up trapped in poverty even before the pandemic. Failure to reverse the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit risks plunging yet more children into poverty. Reducing the taper rate will not benefit families without work and will not make up the cut for many working families which do benefit. The failure to expand Free School Meals is a further disappointment. No child should be coming to school too hungry to learn. 

“Taking so long to restore the cuts made from 2010 onwards should not be a matter of pride for any Government, but one of embarrassment.  

"With just £2bn added, the Government's plan for education recovery is completely inadequate. Recovery tsar Sir Kevan Collins proposed a £15 billion package and resigned when it was rejected. Even with the announcement today, the Chancellor is operating at around a third of that price. This is simply not good enough. Recovery will take years of work and investment. 

"Funding for special educational needs and disability (SEND) has consistently failed to keep pace with the growth in numbers of young people with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) in recent years. Today's £2.6bn additional money will close the gap but only temporarily. It is another example of corner cutting by a Government that is yet to publish the outcomes of its review of SEND provision. 

"New funding for post-16 education is an acknowledgement that the sector matters, but only a partial repair of the even greater damage done to this sector than to schools since 2010. Alongside NAHT, we called for an additional £6bn over the next three years. The Chancellor's skills announcement continues to sideline Applied General Qualifications including BTECs and Cam Techs. This will fall heaviest on disadvantaged students, for whom AGQs have been a passport to higher education and employment. 

"Pay has been eroded in real terms by successive Conservative governments, increasing the tide of recently qualified teachers leaving in their first five years. The pay freeze this year was nothing short of an insult, but the hint of a pay rise may still prove to be a con. If the Chancellor expects to meet a pay rise through existing budgets, then we will see further cuts and impossible decisions for school and college leaders attempting to balance their books. The NEU will be watching Rishi Sunak’s next steps carefully - on giving the School Teachers Review Body its head, on taking on board its recommendations, and on funding them fully so that leaders are able to properly reward and retain all their staff. 

"We urge the Chancellor to view pay rises as investment. Investment in public services, investment in having the teachers we need in front of our classes, investment in having the nurses we need for our patients. Public sector workers also aid the economy by spending on the high street, something they are less inclined to do if they are struggling to make ends meet. The era of real terms pay cuts - which has seen a 15% cut since 2010, and an alarming exodus of recently qualified teachers - has been wholly destructive and must now end. 

"The Chancellor wants to be seen as generous but has inherited a long and sorry legacy of cuts. Offering a fraction of what is needed to repair services which have been persistently underfunded is not valuing education. It is not valuing educators. Schools and colleges need more support to help children succeed. Today, the Chancellor has only underscored his failure to deliver for staff, young people and parents." 

Spending Review: Welcome investment but falls short on recovery, say school leaders 

Paul Whiteman 100x100Commenting as the government today set out their spending plans for the next few years, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“The additional recovery funding announced today is welcome, though it falls far short of the £13-15bn independent experts have said is needed.

“Children and young people have been hugely affected by the pandemic. The government has made bold claims about ‘levelling up’ and ‘no child left behind’. The investment announced today doesn’t meet those goals or the futures needs of the country.

“The increase in per pupil spending announced by the government takes us back to 2010 levels. This is no proud boast, as it represents a failure to invest in children’s futures for over a decade.

“Schools will do their best with what they are given, as they always do. It is important that schools are able to spend recovery money flexibly on the programmes they know work best for the children in most need in their schools.

“Two of the biggest areas of concern for schools are special educational needs funding and children’s mental health. The government urgently needs to publish the findings of their SEND review and commit the money needed to address the SEND crisis in schools. It is unacceptable that two years on from starting the review, the government has still not taken any action.

“Overall, this is a much-needed investment for schools, but it still doesn’t fully recognise that education is an investment in not only our children’s life chances, but in the nation’s future.”

Graham Hasting Evans, Chief Executive of NOCN said:

“I welcome the £1.6bn cash investment for colleges over three years to 2024-25 for T-levels.  I also welcome the £550m is being invested in adult skills and the further £170m for apprenticeships and training. However this a drop in the ocean compared the skill upgrade investment the economy needs for digitisation and Net Zero”.

WorldSkills UK CEO Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE said: “The chancellor’s focus on and investment in skills is very welcome. If the UK is serious about levelling up and delivering a high wage, high productivity, high skill economy then we have to act now. 

“Along with our partners, WorldSkills UK is already playing its part. Our innovative Centre of Excellence is using international best practice to help drive up standards in colleges and training providers across the UK and level up opportunity for the next generation. 

“The chancellor is right to highlight that higher skills will lead to better paid jobs. To unlock people’s potential and lead a skills revolution that increases productivity and drives up wages we also need strategies linking high-quality skills to help secure inward investment. 

“Our Skills Taskforce for Global Britain is examining how we match world-class skills supply to help land that much-sought after international investment and create more high-quality jobs in the key growth sectors of the economy of the future, like green tech and advanced manufacturing.”

In response to this afternoon’s Budget and spending review, Deputy CEO of the Recruitment & Employment Confederation Kate Shoesmith said:

"The Chancellor said today was about preparing for a new economy. To really deliver on that, what we need to see from government is a long-term, strategic vision for the whole UK workforce. Businesses up and down the country are battling labour and skills shortages. They need the right levers to enable the right type of investment in workforce development and growth - only that growth can make wage rises sustainable and improve the public finances long-term. That means ensuring businesses have the financial headroom and incentives to invest here in the UK, as well as the skills support that is needed.

"Today’s pledge for more spending on skills is a step in the right direction - but what is long overdue is a revolution in how we deliver training and skills. The apprenticeship levy is acting as a brake on prospects for young people, and progression for many workers. It needs to be overhauled, so that it supports people at and into work properly. There is also still not enough focus on entry-level skills, where the most acute shortages are, so we hope to see more on that in the detail of the skills bootcamps announcement.

"In terms of encouraging business investment and improving productivity, funding for transport outside London, the Global Britain Investment Fund and the Annual Investment Allowance extension should help to boost local and regional economies and growing businesses. Struggling sectors will be pleased to see cuts to business rates, but this was a missed opportunity for more radical, long-term reform. We would like to see the departments for work and pensions, business and education work together in a joint forum with business on measures that will help to level up the entire country and produce the high pay, high skill economy that we are all aiming for."


Tony Danker, CBI Director-General, said:

“Today, the Chancellor has shown a genuine willingness to listen to business with measures that will get firms innovating and help the economy to grow. It takes several positive steps forward, but isn’t bold enough to deliver the high investment, high productivity economy the Government seeks.

“On Business Rates, the Chancellor made real strides in making the system more palatable for businesses in the shorter term.  More frequent valuations, wider reliefs and improving the incentives for firms to decarbonise their premises is what firms have been calling for. But the hard truth is that wholesale reform to unlock investment was rejected today. The Government missed the opportunity to truly reform a business rates system that diminishes Britain’s high streets and factories.

“The Government’s commitment to innovation will be a central cog to the UK’s prospects to leading in the industries of the future. This will be essential to be globally competitive so the Government must stick to these targets in the coming years.

“Meanwhile, businesses will welcome the new skills bootcamps. This agile approach must now be the watchword when it comes to revolutionising the skills landscape, including for apprenticeships.

“This Budget alone won’t seize the moment and transform the UK economy for a post-Brexit post-Covid world. Businesses remain in a high tax, low productivity economy with concerns about inflation. But the Budget will have a positive impact across the economy and makes several changes that will be welcomed by UK businesses.”

Simon Carter, Director at RM comments:

“With Britain’s national debt significantly higher than pre-COVID, and the country’s ageing population weighing heavy on the NHS, it would have been naïve to expect an optimistic Autumn Budget from the Chancellor this year. Instead, it’s safe to say that Rishi Sunak has battened down the hatches and braced the country for a tax-heavy winter – and even Government departments haven’t escaped the cash cull.   

“But there is at least some positive news for one of the most cash-strapped Government departments: education. With schools, colleges and universities under enormous pressure to fill staff vacancies, as well as fund ever-developing remote learning offerings, teachers will be relieved to learn that not all areas of education will be facing a further round of cuts this October. And, with half term behind them and shortages of everything from sparkling water to petrol to lorry drivers plaguing Britain in the lead up to Christmas, schools will be reassured that there isn’t another tightening of belts so soon after the pandemic.

“Schools have, after all, become first responders to the families most impacted by COVID. Whether for education, social or mental health purposes, the relationships between students and teachers have meant parents are free to work, and young people free to learn and interact, even in the most difficult of circumstances. While the economy remains in flux in the UK, it’s vital that education institutions remain the priority for the UK Government and teachers’ hard work pays off in time for the next academic year.”

Commenting on funding announced for schools in this year’s Budget, Lee Elliot Major, Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter, said:

“This is a welcome injection of money to level up the grotesquely unequal playing field for a generation of poorer children who have fallen further behind in education due to the pandemic. The key question as ever will be how it is spent in schools: our best bet for social mobility is ensuring children from disadvantaged backgrounds get the highly effective teaching they deserve.”


Mark Creighton, CEO of Avado comments

This week the Chancellor is set to announce the autumn budget with an expected commitment of £3bn assigned to fund the so-called "skills revolution". The news of this investment is a crucial first step in repairing the UK capability chasm. Businesses across the country are seriously lacking the inherent capabilities needed to grow and prosper in our ever-evolving economic landscape. For too long, investment in adult skills has been left to employers who have plugged the gaps left from college and tertiary education costing businesses, students and the economy millions of pounds a year. Everyone deserves access to learning that enables diversified skills providing access to various career pathways. As we face an employee supply challenge as well as continuing issues with outsourcing and reliability, it has never been more crucial to get this right. It is our sincere hope that there will be a continued collaboration with further education providers to harness insight that helps build capabilities and change lives.”

Samuel Schofield, Vice President EMEA & APAC at talent  transformation platform Udacity commented:

“This is a vital vocational training initiative from the UK Government, and we welcome the undoubtedly positive impact it will have on the country’s 16-19-year-olds. However, there is increasing concern at the growing digital skills gap in the UK, and this announcement does little to address the issue. Certain technical skills are in exceptionally high demand and the Government should consider addressing this directly via new funding to upskill our existing workforce, ensuring they too are well-placed for the careers of the future. This means widespread, meaningful technical training that will directly combat the digital skills gap. 

“Research has shown that technology will create 133 million new jobs globally and that preparing nations for this growth remains possible at a government level. We’ve seen the benefits of states engaging with solutions like Udacity to tackle glaring skills shortages in the here and now. A recent partnership in Egypt equipt 100,000 students with free courses in web development, digital marketing, and data analytics; their combined annual earning potential is now estimated to be ~$100 million.

“The UK Government is taking an important step in the right direction but there is more work to be done particularly focused on job-ready digital skills. It’s plain to see that hiring managers have it tough, with approximately 46% of businesses struggling to recruit for hard data skills within the past two years. To better spend his budget, the Chancellor should consider working with established talent transformation partners with the necessary skills to pull this off.”

Sabby Gill, CEO at Thomas International said: 

"It’s promising to hear the OBR has predicted the unemployment rate will fall from 12% to 5.2%, but the government is missing the point.

"There is a skills shortage plaguing the nation’s workforce. We have  a mismatch between the skills of those looking for jobs, and the number of jobs requiring skills lots of people don’t have. As seen with the number of cybersecurity and IT experts and lorry driver positions still vacant today.

"The government must make more investment to re-skill staff - including those who have been previously furloughed - into areas where there are huge levels of demand and open vacancies." 

Jason Stirland, CTO at DeltaNet International: 

“The Chancellor’s skills revolution is definitely a step in the right direction. The industry is increasingly demanding more complex solutions, meaning the need for students and graduates to understand artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity has never been greater. With the rapid development of technology we see each year, organisations can only compete and further transform if they have access to the right talent.  


“A principal factor in a successful cybersecurity solution and protecting organisations from cyberattacks is employees understanding and taking ownership for this, so getting training in earlier, before they head into the workplace, will be critical. It is significantly beneficial to see these areas becoming part of the core curriculum in colleges and even schools in the future. That way, the knowledge is engrained into students, so by the time they join the workforce, they are leaps ahead of where we are now.   


“The work doesn’t just stop there, either. The skills boost must be supported with diversity initiatives. We’ve long seen the battle to get more women in tech, and it’s abundantly clear that organisations succeed more when they have people from diverse backgrounds and genders in their teams and on their boards. Encouraging students to take up these opportunities to learn exciting skills in AI and cybersecurity will be key to driving them to look for a career in these fields.”   


Ian Rawlings, RVP EMEA, SumTotal comments:

“As life starts to follow a less tumultuous path than we’ve seen in the past 18 months and we become accustomed to ‘the new normal’, the Chancellor’s autumn budget has been widely anticipated in all circles. In his address to the Conservative Party earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his ‘Build Back Better’ strategy to shift the country to a “high wage, high skill, high productivity economy”. Continued action to tackle unemployment and support job seekers will be instrumental as organisations face shrinking talent pools and a surge in demand for talent driven by digital transformation.

As the furlough scheme ended, job creation and skills shortages were partially addressed by the announcement of more job search support for individuals and extensions of the Kickstart scheme and apprenticeship grant scheme. However, these initiatives, supported by today’s announcement on supporting growth with the “skills revolution” spending package, only touch the tip of the iceberg.

‘The Great Resignation’ has thrust the skills crisis further into public consciousness, highlighting the need to build - and retain - skilled employees. Organisations need to push ahead with their reskilling efforts to help defend against this ongoing talent crisis, and future-proof both their employees and the wider business. Succession planning is key for identifying and developing future leaders, not just at the top but for roles at all levels. And, critically assessing the future demand for skills and understanding the patterns and obstacles that may affect workforce migration to new skill sets, will ensure HR teams can stay one step ahead as the war for talent intensifies."

Commenting on the spending review, Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the NCUB (National Centre for Universities and Business), said: “The Chancellor has taken a positive step forward by committing that annual research and development spend (R&D) will hit £20 billion by 2024-2025. We also warmly welcome the news that this funding will be delivered in steady increases and not backloaded towards the end of settlement. This will give those investing in R&D confidence to invest today. The Chancellor has rightly highlighted that R&D is central to the Government’s vision for the UK economy. He has today sent a clear signal to business that the UK is serious about building its research and innovation capacity and capability.”

Marshall continued: “Although clearly a positive step, the real opportunities of this extra funding will come if it helps to drive a step change in private investment too. This requires a better understanding of how to improve connections between fundamental research, and the innovations that will transform the world and drive economic growth. Government, businesses and universities have a real responsibility to consider how this funding is optimised."

Marshall concluded: “Today’s spending review was the most important in modern times. As we look to recover and grow post Covid-19, the Chancellor has rightly acknowledged that research and innovation is the corner stone of the UK economy. It’s our national strength and is central to our well-being, our economy and our prosperity. Indeed, for every £1 spent in R&D, £7 is made in economic and social benefits from helping to attract investment, boosting productivity and creating new jobs. Research and innovation investment does not just benefit those who receive funding, but society as a whole. The long-term public commitment to invest in our research base will be the nation’s ticket out of the crisis and into a prosperous future."


Jonathan Webb, a senior research fellow at IPPR North said:

“Today was an acid test for the government’s flagship levelling up agenda – and the Chancellor has fallen short of the sky-high rhetoric that he and the government set themselves to fix the UK’s unprecedented regional divides. The announcements today lack the essential ingredients needed to achieve this – sustained regional investment and substantial devolution. The country is no more on track to level up than it was yesterday.

“It appears that the government’s plan to level up is little more than centrally controlled, ring-fenced, competitive funding pots designed more to get headlines than to narrow inequalities. The UK faces the deepest regional divides of any comparable country. Today was a day not for first steps, but for outlining how we’ll deliver levelling up over the next few years. This requires the publication of the Levelling Up White Paper, a commitment from all of government demonstrated by action, a power shift away from Whitehall to town halls, as well as sustained investment to grow regional economies.

“Austerity is not over, our regional divides are deep and growing, we are not out of the woods of a catastrophic pandemic, and we need to get ahead of the game on building a net zero economy. The North’s resilience has been undermined by these interacting factors for years. Levelling up could be a golden opportunity to reduce divides, boost opportunity, and give communities control over their destinies. It is not an opportunity that has been seized today.”

On the Shared Prosperity Fund, senior research fellow at IPPR North, Erica Roscoe said:

“The shared prosperity fund is meant to be the government’s answer to the investment funds lost from the EU following Brexit, but despite repeated announcements of the Shared Prosperity Fund over the last 4 years ago, nothing has come to fruition.

“Instead, we’ve seen fractured, small-scale, short-term and hugely centralised funding pots. This has created a fragmented and confusing funding environment where local governments are expected to spend time and resources applying for competitive pots of money, when they are already overstretched.

“The repeated announcement of £1.5 billion by 2024-25 for the Shared Prosperity Fund might sound generous, but while the government intends to match what the UK used to receive in EU structural funding, in reality this will lead to a significant shortfall as it doesn’t include domestic match funding”.

On transport, Marcus Johns, a research fellow at IPPR North said:

“The promise of an infrastructure revolution has been rolled out once again. But rehashed, repackaged, and re-announced pots of funding at each budget are not going to close the UK’s regional divides, which hold back the northern and national economy and fail to deliver economic justice.

“City regions have been held back for too long by a lack of investment in their public transport and the £6.9 billion allocation to some Mayoral Combined Authorities is a positive, if long overdue, step towards improving this—though only £1.5 billion is actually new funding today and places like the North East, or those without devolution have been left out. And his failure to mention Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2’s Eastern Leg is a shackle on the North’s future, raising again the Treasury’s long-term reluctance to invest in the North and get us on track to a more prosperous future.

“The absence of the Levelling Up White Paper and Integrated Rail Plan by this budget mean that there is still no strategy, framework, or leadership behind levelling up funding promises and little clarity is available for the North’s mayors and local leaders for their ambitions after the pandemic.”

Lynsey Sweeney, Managing Director, Communities that Work, said:

"The omission of meaningful detail on how UK Shared Prosperity Fund will work is hugely disappointing and puts our ability to level up at risk.

"Thousands of communities and organisations have been anxiously waiting for detail on how EU funding that they have long relied on will be replaced and built upon by the new UKSPF. The £2.6 billion over the next three years announced today does not equate to the level of funding received from the EU and leaves communities about £500 million worse off – a levelling down, not levelling up.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed lives and livelihoods. Recent data shows us that the financially vulnerable have been hit hardest and now risk falling even further behind. We urge Government to provide clarity on UKSPF imminently, and to work alongside the housing sector to ensure the Fund is set up for success from the start. Our economy and our communities can’t afford to wait.”

 Commenting on the Chancellor’s Budget, Andy Cook, CEO of The Centre for Social Justice, said:
“Work is the best route out of poverty. The CSJ first conceived Universal Credit to make work pay, so it is fantastic to see the Chancellor cut the taper rate from 63p to 55p, inline with our original design. This simple but radical step will allow working families to keep more of their hard earned cash.” 

Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget and the implications for higher education, Professor Steve West, President of Universities UK, said:

“Universities have been essential in the fight against coronavirus and it is excellent to see government recognising that our universities can play a significant role in speeding up the UK’s recovery from the pandemic.

“The funding confirmed today will enable universities to fully support and power up the government’s plans for levelling up, working together with businesses, supporting innovation, and meeting local skills needs.

“We are very pleased to see the continued commitment to increasing public spending on research, innovation, enterprise and development, which will help to maintain the UK’s position as a global science superpower. It is also positive to hear that the full costs of meeting our Horizon Europe association will be met.

“Sustainable funding is of course vital for universities as they look to maximise their role in both levelling up and expanding pioneering research. We look forward to continuing to engage with the government on funding for post-18 education, working to ensure that anyone with the potential to succeed at university has the opportunity to do so while ensuring the country has the supply of highly skilled people it needs.”

Anna Taylor, Executive Director, the Food Foundation said:

“Today’s announcement that the Holiday Activities and Food Programme will continue to be funded shows that the Government recognise the importance of providing vulnerable children with nutritious food during the school holidays. Provision of holiday clubs through the programme has provided a vital lifeline during the financially challenging school holiday periods for many families this year, supporting children’s learning and development and preventing them from falling behind their peers. 

"However, this alone will not be enough to prevent child food insecurity.  It is worrying that the Government has not chosen to extend eligibility for the scheme, or to expand the number of children that are eligible for Free School Meals and Healthy Start vouchers.  There are still far too many children not benefitting from the safety net that these targeted schemes should be providing. Nearly 50% of children experiencing food insecurity in England are still not eligible for Free School Meals or holiday clubs.  A basic level of adequate, nutritious food for the most at-risk children is not a big ask, and would help ensure that spending on education goes further by helping disadvantaged children learn better and protecting their long-term health.   

"Families are facing a difficult winter with the £20 cut to Universal Credit, growing food and fuel prices and the forthcoming rise in National Insurance.  The wider measures announced today – increasing minimum wage levels from April 2022 and removing the freeze on public sector pay – are very welcome, but will not go far enough, and do little to help those on Universal Credit or to provide essential support for families this winter.“

EPI response to Spending Review: Extra funding for education recovery welcome, but fails to respond to the scale of pupil learning loss 

Analysis from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) following this afternoon's Spending Review announcement finds that government funding to support education recovery from the pandemic falls short of the level required to address pupil learning losses. 

EPI research has found that a total funding package of around £13.5bn over three years will be required from the government to effectively address learning losses in England, which in turn are likely to adversely affect pupils' future earnings and the economy. 

Prior to today, total government funding for pandemic education recovery stood at £3.1bn in England between 2020-21 and 2024-25 – around £310 per pupil in total.

Following today's Spending Review announcement, total funding for education recovery now stands at £4.9bn, or around £490 per pupil. 

Despite today's increase of around £1.8bn, funding for education recovery in England is still significantly less than the level of funding committed by other developed nations. EPI analysis has found that education catch-up plans in the Netherlands amount to around £2,100 per pupil, while those in the United States amount to around £1,800 per pupil. 

Responding to the Spending Review and the Chancellor's announcements on education recovery, Whitney Crenna-Jennings, Associate Director at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: 

"We know from our research that pupils have experienced considerable learning losses as a result of the pandemic, with those from disadvantaged backgrounds suffering greater losses than their peers. Additional funding from the government to support pupils' recovery now stands at around £4.9bn – that’s around £490 per pupil. While this extra investment to support pupils is a positive development, it's still some way off the £13.5bn that our research has shown is needed to reverse the damage done to children's education."

David Laws, Executive Chairman of the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said: 

"While additional funding to support education recovery is welcome, this funding is only a quarter of the level of investment committed by other rich countries, such as the US and the Netherlands. We need to see the government go much further to address the huge scale of learning losses, and to support those pupils who have been hit the hardest, particularly those from poorer backgrounds and those in parts of the north of England and the Midlands.

"The government have announced that there will be increased spending on schools, but our analysis shows that this will only bring real-terms funding levels to around the same as those seen in 2010. That per pupil funding will be no higher than it was almost a decade and a half ago cannot be regarded as an ambitious funding settlement.”

Katie Schmuecker, Deputy Director of Policy & Partnerships at JRF said: 

"This is a tale of two Budgets for families on low incomes. For those in work, the change to the taper rate and work allowance, alongside the National Living Wage increase, are very positive steps, allowing low-paid workers to keep more of what they earn. Together these measures improve our social security system for working families and demonstrate a serious intent to turn the tide on the pre-pandemic trend of rising in-work poverty.  

“But the reality is that millions of people who are unable to work or looking for work will not benefit from these changes. The Chancellor’s decision to ignore them today as the cost of living rises risks deepening poverty among this group, who now have the lowest main rate of out-of-work support in real terms since around 1990. 

“Among the people in our society who cannot work are cancer patients, people with disabilities and those caring for young children or elderly parents. Their energy bills and weekly shop are going up like everyone else’s and they face immediate hardship, hunger and debt in the months ahead. The Chancellor had an opportunity to support families on the lowest incomes to weather the storm ahead, and he did not take it.”  

Nick Hillman100x100Nick Hillman, the Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said:

‘The slowdown in planned public spending on research and development is disappointing. Unlike other areas of government spending, when it comes to research, public funding “crowds in” rather than “crowds out” private funding. So the road towards the long-standing commitment to spend 2.4% of GDP on R&D – which is only the OECD average, so not actually very ambitious – just got bumpier still.

‘It is a shame because, as the Prime Minister said during his party conference speech, public and private sectors working together on the innovations of the future is how to maintain the UK’s relative global standing. Indeed, without cutting-edge research, there would be no COVID jabs, more environmental damage and slower economic growth.

‘However, it is also important to see the new numbers in the round. If the Chancellor had never put the figure of £22 billion public spending on research by 2024/25 in the public domain, as he did last year, then we would regard today’s numbers as a big increase in the commitment to science and research, and I am pleased to see that the 2.4% commitment lives to fight another day. Even after today’s announcement, the increase in spending is impressive, although in truth that is partly only because our starting point on research spending is so low compared to our competitors.

‘Overall, the new Science Minister will need to work hard to allay concerns that we are seeing a diminution in the Government’s commitment to science, research and technology, but it is not an impossible task.

‘Aside from research, the higher education sector was hoping for more details on the Government’s response to the Augar review, which reported two-and-a-half years ago. We still don’t know what, if anything, will happen to student loans or student numbers or tuition fees. This is surprising because, given major changes can take a couple of years to introduce, we will soon approach the point where it is not feasible to roll out really big new changes smoothly before the next election.’

Sir Peter Lampl, founder and chair of the Sutton Trust and chair of the Education Endowment Foundation, said:

“The Chancellor is right to recognise that a strong economy is one where opportunity is available to everyone, regardless of background. Yet there are serious challenges across all stages of education that need addressing before this ambition is realised.

“Today’s Spending Review was a landmark moment for the government to do this and show their commitment to disadvantaged children and young people, who have been most impacted by the pandemic.

“It was good to see such a strong focus on the first years of a child’s life, which is a crucial point for social mobility. The fund for training and development for early years staff is something we’ve long called for. It is a welcome commitment to early years staff who have long been undervalued despite the important role they play in shaping young lives. However there was a missed opportunity for the Chancellor to reform the 30 hours childcare policy, which locks out many working families from vital early education opportunities.

“Sadly, the funding allocated to schools and colleges for education recovery is not enough to address the scale of the challenge they face. We would have liked to see even more funding targeted specifically at disadvantaged pupils to recognise the additional barriers these pupils face.  The impact of not doing this will be felt for years to come.”

Commenting on the Budget, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“After days of behind the scenes media briefings, teachers would be right to be underwhelmed by the Chancellor’s announcements today.

The Chancellor’s promise of fair and affordable pay rises over the next three years will not address the very acute pressures currently faced by teachers, following the 17% real terms cut to teachers’ pay over the last decade, rising cost of living pressures and, from next April, further increases in National Insurance Contributions.

“Today’s announcement by the Chancellor falls short of what is needed to address the deepening crisis in teacher morale.

“The Government must keep its promises, starting by giving the School Teachers’ Review Body a clear and unrestricted remit that is capable of restoring the value of teachers’ pay and ending the current teacher retention crisis.

“The commitment to restore per pupil funding in schools to 2010 levels is a clear admission of the Government’s record of cuts to school and education budgets over the last decade.

“Today’s announcement does not provide schools with the money they need now to meet the acute demands from pupils whose learning has been seriously disrupted by the pandemic.

“Today’s pledge to provide additional funding for education recovery still only brings spending on post-pandemic recovery to less than £5bn and is just a fraction of the £15 billion reportedly recommended by the Government’s former Education Recovery Commissioner.

“Schools and teachers are in need of immediate investment, not promises for the future, if they are to deliver the best opportunities and life chances for children and young people.”

Today's Spending Review and Budget included welcome improvements in Universal Credit for low earners, and re-affirmed previous funding commitments on employment and skills.  However, it was silent on any significant new measures to help address the growing recruitment crisis that is affecting firms across all sectors.

Tony Wilson 100x100Commenting on the announcement, Tony Wilson Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said:

"The Chancellor has missed the chance today to take steps to address the growing recruitment crisis that is affecting firms across all parts of the economy.  With a million fewer people in the labour market than on pre-crisis trends, we were hoping to see substantial new measures to increase labour market participation and address skills mismatches.  Instead, firms will continue to struggle to fill vacancies, while the four million people out of work due to long-term ill health and caring responsibilities will continue to receive virtually no employment support at all.

"That being said, the substantial improvements in Universal Credit are welcome, and will benefit low income workers and particularly those with children.  For many of those on on Universal Credit this will go some way to reversing the cuts made last month, although most households will continue to be worse off, including all of those where no-one works."

Elizabeth Taylor 100x100Elizabeth Taylor, Chief Executive ERSA said:

"Today was the day we expected to learn more about UKSPF through the Spending Review, so we find ourselves disappointed that there is no real detail. What we have learnt is that the Devolved Administrations will have a place within the governance structures for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The Chancellor promised Shared Prosperity Fund would match EU structural funding of £1.5bn a year but it is hard to envisage how the UKSPF commitment will match estimated EU funding of  £11bn over 2021-27, if in 2022-23 it is £0.4bn and 2023-24 £0.7bn,  we are waiting for 2024-25.

"We also understand that UKSPF will fund Multiply , the new UK-wide programme to equip hundreds of thousands of adults with functional numeracy skills to improve their employment prospects, this is a welcome initiative.

"Evidence shows that we need engagement, participation and employment support as a central feature of UKSPF. There are high numbers in employment, but there is a skills and labour shortage. Programmes and projects funded by European Funding have engaged with people reluctant to be active job seekers, have removed barriers, enhanced skills and responded at the local level needed for place based levelling up. We still hope to see this through UKSPF.  We will continue to make the case for employment provisions within UKSPF."


Responding to the Budget statement CITB Policy Director Steve Radley said:  

“Today’s announcement on infrastructure spending, on top of government plans to meet its net zero commitments, show it’s critical to invest in construction skills. 

“With employers already facing significant skills pressures, we must attract new talent from all areas and upskill the existing workforce.  

“Today’s large-scale investments in T levels, maths, Skills Bootcamps and modernising Further Education will provide crucial support on skills and should help to ease pressure on employers looking to recruit and train. Building better pathways into work through traineeships and bootcamps and helping colleges to modernise are key investments. We look forward to building on our work so far to shape these programmes to deliver the skills the industry needs.” 

Responding to today's Budget, Steve Haines, Director of Public Affairs at youth charity Impetus is urging the Government to provide some much needed clarity on post-18 education and funding:    

"Over two years after the Augar Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, and despite repeated promises, today’s Budget and Spending Review has left us no clearer on the Government's plans. 

"The risk of cut in tuition fees, that could lead to a reducing in funding for widening participation efforts, has loomed over higher education for too long.

"We need a comprehensive response with fair access at its heart, so that all young people with the potential to succeed at university are given the opportunity to do so."

Professor Jon Keating, spokesman for the Protect Pure Maths Campaign, said: “The failure to confirm extra funding for mathematics in the Budget is a staggering oversight for a government that has previously suggested it recognises the importance of maths to the UK economy and society. Something further evidenced today with the setting up of the Multiply scheme to improve adult numeracy.

“The government deserves praise for its previous announcement of £300 million in extra support for the mathematical sciences. But it is gravely concerning that there was no mention of following through on that in this latest spending round.

“Maths underpins the most urgent technological developments, from Artificial Intelligence to quantum computers and driverless cars. And, of course, maths remains vital to modelling the Covid-19 pandemic and to creating and rolling out vaccines.

“However the focus of Protect Pure Maths is not limited to funding. We want parliament to recognise the contribution of maths – to the economy and to society – with an inquiry and by updating the name of the Science and Technology Committee. And we want to ensure that young people are encouraged to and able to study maths across the UK to the highest level to ensure that the golden thread of excellence that runs from Sir Isaac Newton and Ada Lovelace to the Nobel prize winners of today continues into the future.”

 Response to the Early Years Budget announcement from Claudine Bowyer-Crane, NIESR's Associate Research Director said: 

“On the face of it, the Chancellor’s announcement in today’s budget of investment in Early Childcare and Education appears positive, but the devil is in the detail, much more of which is needed before the sector can be confident that it will make a real difference”

Professor Julia Black, President of the British Academy, said:  

“This Budget and Spending Review come at a time of extraordinary pressure on the public finances as Britain seeks to recover from the twin challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. Support for R&D and higher education will be vital to the UK’s recovery, the delivery of its strategies for Innovation and Talent and the Integrated Review as well as maintaining its global reputation as a centre of excellence for science and research across all the disciplines.  

“We therefore welcome the decision to continue funding R&D substantially and in a sustained way, increasing annual investment from £14.9bn to £20bn by 2024/5, and the commitment to continue that trajectory to reach £22bn by 2026/7.  Long term continuous investment is the best way to build real capacity across our research base. We still believe that the original target to invest at least 2.4 per cent of GDP in research by 2027 remains imperative if we are to compete on a global stage where percentage investments are already much higher. We therefore welcome the government’s renewed commitment to this target, particularly the increase in the proportion of the 2.4% which will come from public investment.   

“Britain’s recovery from the pandemic, its ability to lead the transition to Net Zero, to address inequalities and to continue to be seen as a global leader will depend in large part on the health of its research sector, with STEM and SHAPE disciplines (Social Sciences and Humanities for People and the Economy) working side by side. Investment in R&D is a key part of the solution to any problem facing us as a society. This crucially includes delivering on the Government’s commitment to associating to Horizon Europe so that we can continue to collaborate with our European partners and fully participate in the world-leading European Research Council.”  

Zoë Morris, President, Frank Recruitment Group comments

Skills revolution

 “An investment in today’s young people is an investment in tomorrow’s workforce. More than £3bn in skills revolution funding means the post-16 education demographic will have a fresh opportunity to upskill or retrain. 

“More than half of this investment will be used to provide extra classroom hours for those studying for T-levels, and this is great news for both professionals and businesses across the UK. Accessible and flexible education is the way forward for closing the ever-growing skills gap—particularly in STEM industries that are constantly hungry for talent. The pandemic has brought both new challenges opportunities to this industry, as many businesses become more dependent than ever on digital solutions. But it has also created an excess of empty seats across businesses, that need to be filled—and the only way to rise to this challenge is by removing any barriers for those who wish to enter such fast-moving industries, making them a feasible career choice for young people across the UK.”


 “Extra investment and opportunities for traineeships are crucial to attract the younger generation to growing sectors like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and nuclear. Such programs equip young people with the skills and experience they need to enter the job market. As these industries continue to evolve, so does the ongoing skill gap in their hiring markets, so future-proofing young people’s careers through hands-on experience are necessary if we want to strengthen the development of modern technology and continue building on the ongoing digital revolution.

 “However, an increased availability to these schemes can also put apprentices in a vulnerable position, with some employers taking advantage of them to substitute more expensive skilled labour with less expensive apprenticeships—meaning the government must ensure these are accompanied by guidelines in place to make sure these opportunities aren’t abused.”

 Global Britain Investment Fund/Scale up Visas

“British employers are currently facing the greatest shortage of professionals—mostly due to the post-lockdown economy surge, and Brexit. Industries such as science, tech and automotive are facing a demand for talent that’s larger than the current candidate pool available. So, schemes that help source new talent are always welcome—particularly as more businesses depend heavily on tech for their daily operation. 

“Attracting high-skilled workers to the UK through innovation hotspots means the UK can continue driving innovation, as well as enrich its industry with diverse talent from around the globe. With San Francisco, Boston and Bengaluru being some of the world’s fastest growing hub, we look forward to the outcomes of this incentive.”  

Jo Grady 100x100Responding to today’s autumn budget and its impact on post-16 education, UCU General Secretary Jo Grady said:

‘Investment in lifelong learning and in our English colleges is desperately needed, as is funding to help pupils catch-up after Covid and improve numeracy. But the elephant in the room remains the lack of trained college staff to make the government’s plan work. The pay of those working in further education has been cut by 35% in real-terms since 2010 and 24,000 teaching staff have left the sector in the last ten years. Reversing these trends must now be a priority if the government’s levelling up agenda is to mean anything in post-16 education.

‘Whilst the Chancellor kicks the issue of tuition fees into the long grass, the fees model continues to fail students, saddling them with debt and accelerating the marketisation of our higher education system. Universities should primarily be sites of learning, but the toxic reliance on tuition fee income means they now resemble complex businesses, with an unhealthy focus on revenue capture, a culture which was brutally exposed during the pandemic when the need to secure fee and rental income was prioritised over the health and wellbeing of students.

‘Rather than waste any more time tinkering around the edges of a broken funding model or dictating to students what constitutes a valuable degree, the government would be much wiser to explore investing in a publicly funded higher education system.’

Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget announcement, Liz Bromley, Chief Executive Officer at NCG, the UK’s largest college group, said:

“We welcome any support that will genuinely place skills at the centre of the recovery with the means to make a real impact. Funding that supports the most disadvantaged and uses education to shape positive futures is critical, and we are pleased to see the government make its £2bn pledge to education recovery.

“It is encouraging to see the government increase its investment into education. The funding for T Levels and vocational education is especially positive to see, as these qualifications have the potential to really drive the recovery of the economy across a range of sectors.

“We are at a moment in time when strategic investment in further education to develop home grown skills and the future workforce can make a real difference to the UK’s recovery post pandemic, but we look forward to seeing the accompanying detail that will support the sector to put this into action in a meaningful way. For example, we’d like to see further information on the £1.5 billion of capital offered to improve our learning environments. It’s welcome support, however, we hope that there will be realistic time limits placed on spending this fund to ensure that we can use the money available in the best possible way for long-term impact without rushing into short-term options.

“Investment into Skills Bootcamps mirrors NCG’s commitment to lifelong learning and will support the upskilling of workers who have found themselves displaced as a result of the pandemic. The £560m Multiply numeracy programme for adults is also a positive move in terms of enhancing the prospects of people across the country – we are keen to see whether this includes accessible courses such as Functional Skills to maximise this opportunity to ‘level up’ educationally.

“It will be interesting to see how the government plans to facilitate collaboration between education and industry, as the development of sustainable long-term partnerships is key to creating a skilled future workforce. We’d welcome the opportunity to share our longstanding experience in working with employers to create tangible links to the workplace, especially in key sectors such as STEM and clean energy.

“For apprenticeships, which have experienced continual underspend, we’d like to see the government outline realistic and tangible strategies for educating and incentivising employers to engage with the apprenticeship scheme, to maximise opportunities for young people and help to build back better.”

Grant Glendinning, Executive Principal North and Strategic Lead for Apprenticeships at NCG, added: “It’s very welcome to see the total funding for apprenticeships rise to the promised levels but in tandem, improvements to the regulatory system are essential to ensure the amazing benefits apprenticeships provide for young people and employers are maximised. This means simplifying the Digital Apprenticeship Service, removing the complexities around employer incentives, and rationalising the burdensome bureaucracy inherent to the system. This should be done at speed, safely, to achieve the growth in starts this great opportunity brings.”

Bill Watkin 100x100Responding to today’s spending review, Bill Watkin, Chief Executive of the Sixth Form Colleges Association, said:

“We asked three things of the Chancellor in this year’s spending review: boost capital funding for providers of 16 to 19 education that wish to expand, make a long-term commitment to the increases in revenue funding announced in 2019, and raise the rate of core funding for every sixth form student. On capital, it is our understanding that the post-16 capacity fund - currently a one year scheme - will be extended for a further 3 years through the additional funding announced today. That is excellent news, and will benefit colleges that are currently oversubscribed and help to accommodate the thousands of additional 16 to 19 year olds that will participate in education in the coming years. We are also pleased that the government has committed to maintaining the funding gains made in the 2019 spending round and to protecting revenue funding in real terms. However, at this stage, it is too early to say what the new funding rate will be or how funding 40 additional hours of learning per student, per year, will work in practice. We look forward to working through the details of this with officials in the days and weeks ahead”.  

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has slammed the Chancellor for giving twice as much away in tax cuts to bankers as extra catch-up funding to help children make up for lost learning during the pandemic. 

Analysis by the Liberal Democrats shows that reducing the banking surcharge will cost the Treasury over £3.8 billion over the next four years. This compares to just £1.8 billion of additional catch-up funding in today's Budget. That is the equivalent of £1 of extra catch up funding per child every school day, compared to a £6 a day tax cut for each banker. 

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said: 

“This was an out of touch Budget that is taking ordinary families for granted, hiking up people’s taxes while failing to help them with soaring energy bills this winter. We’ve seen a lot of spin but very little on the three big crises we face: the cost of living, the climate emergency and children’s lost learning. 

“Parents are crying out for the catch-up funding our children desperately need. The Chancellor let them down today, offering less in extra catch up funding than his tax cut for the big banks. 

“Rishi Sunak has sent a clear message to children and parents across the country: they are worth less to him than his investment banker chums in the City. We can see clearly what his priorities are, and they are not those of the British people. 

“He is offering a measly pound a day of extra catch up funding for each child, six times less than the tax cut being offered to the Conservatives' banker buddies.”

Commenting after the Budget, Hillary Gyebi-Ababio, NUS Vice-President for Higher Education, said: 

“Rishi Sunak has made the decision to ghost students, wholesale ignoring Higher Education in today’s spending review. 

“Alongside other sector bodies including Universities UK, we asked for maintenance support that students can actually live on, and that won’t leave us with debts we can never repay. We demanded investment in mental health services. We made the case for funding in further education for living costs, and adult learning. 

“The fact that none of our asks have been acknowledged shows that this government is sticking to its old tactic – ignore, abandon, and scapegoat students. 

“We know that an announcement is coming in the next few weeks as the Government finally responds to the Augar Review. We hope that the Government considers the evidence we submitted to this spending review, and address the issues that plague students today”. 

Adam Harper, Director of Professional Standards and Policy, AAT, said:

“Since the change to 30 days came into effect last year, AAT has repeatedly highlighted its members’ concerns, particularly AAT Licensed Accountants, with the unreasonable nature of a 30-day timeframe for reporting qualifying CGT liabilities.

"AAT was convinced that the most effective solution to this problem would be to double the reporting period from 30 to 60 days. That’s what we spoke to various stakeholders about and made representations to Treasury Ministers and provided a Budget submission on, so naturally we are very pleased that they’ve listened and acted accordingly.

AAT: Data and Cloud computing costs will be included in qualifying expenditure for R&D tax relief

“We were also happy to see the confirmation that data and cloud computing costs will be included in qualifying expenditure for R&D tax relief, which we called for in our consultation response earlier this year, along with other measures to support small businesses.

“Additionally, we welcome the planned increases to the National Living Wage – ensuring everyone gets a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work – which was overwhelmingly backed by AAT members, and the government’s ongoing commitment to lifelong learning through expanding the Lifetime Skills Guarantee and increased funding for apprenticeships.

“However, we were disappointed by the announcement of an increase in APD for long haul flights whilst reducing the duty payable on domestic flights – something we had previously urged the government not to do. Whilst the government is keen for the narrative to focus on increased APD for long haul flights, slipping in a reduction for domestic flights under the radar, it’s important to understand that domestic and other short-haul flights are the most carbon intensive form of travel and emit more CO2 per person per mile than long haul flights.

“As a result, the decision to cut APD for domestic flights flies in the face of a wealth of national and international evidence about just how environmentally damaging this will be and seriously undermines the UK’s credibility just a few days before COP26 begins. There can be no doubt that this contradicts and greatly weakens government policy on seeking to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050.”

Anna Smee, CEO, Youth Futures Foundation said:

“The Chancellor's investment into skills and the £1.7bn allocation for Levelling Up communities across the country must deliver for everyone.   

“Jobs and skills play a key role in tackling both inter-regional inequality and inter-generational inequality. Higher rates of unemployment and underemployment among marginalised young people are a long term, entrenched problem for the UK that must be addressed to level up.”

“To ensure the Plan for Jobs levels up opportunities for all, it is important that the government’s focus on our existing workers does not leave young people behind. With high unemployment, record job vacancies and greater participation in education masking the significant challenges young people are facing, inaction may run the risk of leaving our future workforce on the shelf.”

Institute for Fiscal Studies Director Paul Johnson said: 

“The Government is now planning to spend more on public services, and to have a more generous system of universal credit, than it was intending pre-pandemic. The increases in universal credit for those in paid work are occurring alongside increases in the national living wage. This means that the Budget and Spending Review are much more similar to Gordon Brown’s than to George Osborne’s. To help fund the spending increases, the Chancellor confirmed big tax rises: this year has seen the biggest set of tax-raising measures since 1993. It now looks like a large part of those tax rises is to be spent rather than being entirely used to reduce borrowing as originally announced.

"If implemented, this might be sufficient to push borrowing below that expected prior to the pandemic and to see debt falling as a share of national income. Of course there is huge uncertainty over the outlook for the economy and it remains to be seen whether the tax rises will actually be implemented as announced.

"The coming year will also be a difficult one for living standards. For example, for middle earners rising inflation and tax rises mean their real take home pay is set to fall by around 1%.”

Reacting to the Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer today, Nick Molho, Executive Director at the Aldersgate Group said: 

"We recognise that this was a tricky Budget to deliver after a uniquely challenging period for the UK economy, and the desire to stimulate economic activity across the country was welcome. However, coming a week after the welcome publication of the Government’s Net Zero Strategy and its Green Finance Roadmap and a week ahead of COP26, it is disappointing that the Chancellor’s Budget contained so few references to the Treasury’s role in supporting the UK’s net zero transition and its other environmental ambitions. Economic evidence is clear that investing in low carbon infrastructure and nature restoration delivers high economic growth multipliers in terms of job creation, productivity gains and in generating the tax revenues the Chancellor needs to fund high-quality public services, as well as driving economic activity across the country. 

The Chancellor’s commitment to increase investment in skills and education is welcome but significant attention must now be given to putting together a comprehensive low carbon skills strategy, which will ensure that students and those already in the workplace are both equipped with the skills they need for a net zero emissions economy. This must include a comprehensive response to the key recommendations recently made by the Green Jobs Taskforce." 
Nick Molho added: "It was positive to see the progress the UK is making in areas such as green finance, including through the UK Infrastructure Bank’s first investment this week. Going forward, the Bank’s investments should be predominantly targeted in complex areas such as building retrofits and others that require significant funding to ensure viability, like hydrogen and carbon capture.
It will also be important to see tangible increases in funding for local authorities to deliver decarbonisation, as they have a crucial role to play in delivering essential clean energy, transport and skills investment at a local level. Finally, the government must ensure that new fiscal measures do not undermine the UK’s progress towards net zero. In areas such as transport, the main focus must be to make low carbon forms of travel like rail and bus links as reliable and affordable as possible, rather than subsidising domestic air travel.” 

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:

“The Government’s commitment to growing research and innovation funding is an important recognition that the country’s future prosperity will depend on ideas and talent to deliver sustainable growth. This record scale up of funding will support innovation schemes with a track-record of delivering returns as well as long-term investment in basic research that drives cutting-edge scientific discoveries and early-stage investment in new ideas.

“With targeted support, there is a golden opportunity to nurture emerging vibrant innovation clusters based around centres of science and technological excellence at leading universities right around the country. Places like the advanced manufacturing centre in Sheffield, the science and technology hub in Newcastle and the ID Manchester innovation district can help revitalise our regional economies through high-level skills, jobs and investment.

“The pandemic has shown the critical importance of investment in research across the widest possible range of disciplines. The UK's expertise in social sciences, mathematical modelling, human behaviour research and many other fields have been at the core of our response, alongside excellence in medical and other sciences. This multidisciplinary approach is a real strength of the UK and one that can be brought to bear on other major challenges such as Net-Zero and levelling up.

“Today's investment announcements are a welcome boost for the UK science base. Our universities are ready to play their part, working with Government, businesses and local partners of all sizes to ensure research and innovation is translated into tangible benefits for individual citizens across the country and for the economy as a whole.”

Reacting to the announcement of new funding for T Levels and adult education, Angela Joyce, CEO of WCG, said: “Our college group was one of the first to introduce T Levels and we have a firm belief that the qualifications will be integral to the success of the future economy, locally, regionally and nationally.

“These are qualifications designed to generate the skilled workforce of the future. To make these courses a success, colleges need work closer with employers and we have already forged strong relationships with businesses in our region to support the delivery of T Levels.

“To do this, colleges need more funding. For the last two decades colleges have been the part of our UK education system that have seen largest scale funding cuts and this needs to be reversed to support the Government’s new post-16 education agenda.

“Colleges will deliver on training, reskilling and upskilling a UK workforce, provided Government supports us.

“We will continue to expand our T Level programmes but we need funding and investment to support the expansion.

“The additional funding for adult skills and retraining is welcomed. Life expectancy is continuing to lengthen with people’s working lives extending as a result and people will likely change careers several times in their lifetime.

“Adult reskilling should be as important as training young people when it comes to supporting the future economy. There are jobs now that didn’t exist 10 years ago and the same will be true 10 years from now. We hope this change in approach from Government will continue allowing Colleges to play their vital role in plugging skills gaps.”

Responding to the Budget, Policy Chair at the City of London Corporation Catherine McGuinness said:


“The commitment to spend an additional £1.7bn from the Levelling Up Fund on infrastructure across the UK, including London, is welcome. Increased connectivity will help create the conditions for businesses across the country to flourish.

“It is important that levelling up does not lead to a levelling down of London. As the Prime Minister recognised earlier this year, the capital faces unique challenges and still has major inequalities. London is the beating heart of the UK economy and its success benefits every corner of the United Kingdom.”


“The introduction of scale-up visas is a positive signal that the UK remains open to the best and brightest talent from across the globe. It’s essential that the UK can attract international workers to unlock the full potential of fintech, green finance and other fast-growing industries. We look forward to greater clarity related to the timeline and eligibility.

“Additional funding to train workers will help to upskill our workforce through apprenticeships, skills bootcamps and new T-level technical qualifications. This will not only prepare people for better paid jobs, it will also contribute to the UK’s competitive advantage.”

Russell Hobby, CEO of Teach First, said:

 “An increase in pupil funding is much needed and welcome. But it will have the greatest impact if it can be targeted towards schools serving disadvantaged communities – where young people’s education has suffered the most during the pandemic. This would help to level up young people’s opportunities. 

“Increasing teacher starting salaries to £30,000 will also help to recruit the talent needed to support pupils. However, without further funding to cover the additional cost, it will put more pressure on school budgets - as resources, particularly for schools in disadvantaged communities, remain stretched. 

“We’re also pleased to see additional funds allocated to schools for education recovery, but the total of £5bn remains short of what is necessary for the scale of the challenge. 

“We support the Government’s ambition to bounce back from the pandemic and level up the country. But we strongly believe that means levelling up education first and giving every child a chance to maximise their potential.” 

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Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

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Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

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Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

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The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

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