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Toby Perkins MP – College Reclassification and Impact of College Capital Projects

Toby Perkins MP has written a letter to Gillian Keegan MP to highlight the impact of college re-classification on capital infrastructure projects, and the example of Kendall College in particular, who have seen their new campus project pulled at the last minute.

He’s urging the DfE to investigate the situation as a matter of urgency and to publish a list of all college capital projects which have been, or are in danger of being, suspended.

Here is the letter down below:

Dear Gillian,

I am writing to you regarding the recent ONS reclassification of further education colleges, sixth form college corporations and designated institutions in England, as public sector bodies, and the impact that this has had on capital infrastructure projects and borrowing.

As you will be aware it was no secret that the ONS were reviewing this, yet despite the government knowing that a decision on the reclassification was imminent for several months, it would appear that your department has not put any contingency plans in place for impending college capital projects.

As you know, within days of the reclassification decision, a letter was sent to all colleges outlining that they are unable to borrow in line with previous procedures, yet no alternative plan has been set out, despite the risk of urgent capital projects being delayed by the announcement.

This turn of events leaves colleges who are close to completion on urgent capital projects in dire straits, with the very real risk of projects falling through. One example of this is at Kendal College, who are due to complete on an investment project to redevelop the local disused Westmorland Shopping Centre into a state-of-the-art new town centre campus.

The campus would establish a new lecture theatre, science labs, IT and media spaces, to accommodate significant growth in student numbers.

The actions of the government have now put this project, and other similar projects, at risk.

Will you urgently investigate the situation of Kendal College, and others affected by this?

Will you also publish a list of all college capital projects which have been, or are in danger of being, suspended?

Can you explain why the government has told colleges to suspend negotiations with private sector lending partners without apparently putting any equivalent public sector lending infrastructure in place?

It is vital that the government draws up a strategy that sets out what action they will be taking to deal with this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Toby Perkins MP, Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, Shadow Minister for Skills and Further Education

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