From education to employment

NIACE letter to Nick Clegg on BIS funding pressures


Dear Deputy Prime Minister

Funding Pressures in BIS

I am writing to express my concern that the Government appears to be considering significant new cutbacks in the funding of English further and higher education in ways that will have a disproportionate negative impact on adult learners with the lowest levels of qualifications and from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

In order to widen participation and improve social mobility, it is essential to retain a ‘ladder of progression’ from adult basic literacy and numeracy, through foundation learning, Level 2 and 3 skills (including apprenticeships) to level 4 and Higher Education. Cuts in the past few years have put enormous strain on these progression routes and there have been worrying signs of the impacts already. Good examples of this include the drastic reduction in part-time adult HE learners and the failure of advanced level learning loans to support apprenticeships for those aged 24 and over.

My understanding is that there is a tension within BIS about how spending cuts and funding pressures can be met. NIACE is deeply concerned that these pressures may result in the most disadvantaged adults having fewer opportunities to learn to get into work, to improve their skills to stay in work and to gain higher skills to progress in work. It might appear an easy cut to make, to apply savings to the FE budget, and in the short term the reaction to that decision and the ‘noise’ it generates might very well be easier to handle; however, the short and medium term impacts would be detrimental to social mobility, fairness and economic growth.

I would like to ask for your continued support in ensuring that necessary savings measures are applied in a way that is fair across all of the Government’s responsibilities. Within BIS I would invite your support that the savings are not concentrated upon English further education and the widening participation agenda in

higher education, both of which have done so much to offer opportunities to those young people and adults who were not best-served by the school system.

I would be happy to meet with you or supply further information.

Yours Sincerely

David Hughes
Chief Executive Officer

CC. Rt. Hon. Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State
Rt. Hon. Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to theTreasury

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