I have considered the impact of the proposed changes to ESOL funding as part of the Race Equality Impact Assessment (REIA) and I am minded to consider a range of new measures in addition to those the LSC previously announced on 18 October 2007 to reprioritise funding towards the most vulnerable. These are:
Re-instating eligibility for those asylum seekers who are in the UK legally and whose claims are not resolved within six months;
Re-instating eligibility for those asylum seekers who are unable to return or be returned to their country of origin for circumstances beyond their control and who are eligible for Section 4 support;
Prioritising funding at local level through the Learning and Skills Council’s Learner Hardship Support Fund towards support for spouses and individuals who may not have access to their household benefit documentation or their own funds; and
Agreeing with the Learning and Skills Council an approach to evidencing low pay for fee remission purposes which enables flexible use of a raft of evidence, including wider benefits and other evidence.
I have asked officials to work with the Learning and Skills Council and other partners to finalise the detail urgently. I will then make a statement.