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Learning and Skills Council

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what powers the Learning and Skills Council has (a) to open new post-16 facilities and (b) to withdraw funding from existing post-16 facilities (i) with and (ii) without the agreement of the local education authority for the area; and what (A) informal and (B) formal consultation is required before such proposals are (1) made and (2) implemented. (80864)

The LSC has powers to propose new school sixth forms and 16-19 schools under section 113A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 as inserted by section 72 of the Education Act 2002, as part of local 16-19 reorganisation, where it can demonstrate that the proposals will improve participation, raise standards or broaden the range of provision or following recommendations in an Ofsted area inspection report. The LSC also has powers to propose new Further Education Colleges under section 51 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992. In both circumstances the legislation requires the LSC to consult formally and widely, including with the local authority. Reorganisation proposals made by the LSC are decided by the Secretary of State.

The Learning and Skills Act 2000 places a duty on the LSC to make best use of resources (Section 2), gives the LSC the powers to secure the provision of funds to providers of post-16 education and training (Section 5) and impose conditions (Section 6). These powers cover the provision of funding to FE corporations and other providers of post-16 education and training.

Section 7 of the Act gives the LSC the power to make a grant to a local authority to be applied as part of the authority’s local schools budget and with a view to the grant being used for the purpose of or connected with the provision by schools of post-16 education.

The LSC has discretion whether to provide, increase, reduce or withdraw funding. However the LSC must exercise its powers reasonably and this means it would normally be expected to consult with the recipient of any funding before withdrawing funding and take into account any representations they wish to make. The LSC must also take into account all relevant matters in reaching any decisions including the need to fulfil its statutory duties to secure proper or reasonable provision.