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English Language: Adult Education

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what mechanisms are available to applicants for English for Speakers of other Languages classes to appeal against assessments that they should pay a proportion of course costs. (126131)

There is no formal appeals procedure. Where applicants are not eligible for the fee remission for English for Speakers of Other Languages courses, the charging of fees is at the discretion of individual institutions.

From 2007/08 to receive fee remission for any course a learner must prove that they fall into a fee remission category, for example, that they are in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance or an income-based benefit.

My hon. Friend the Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning has considered the impact of the proposed changes to ESOL funding following the Race Equality Impact Assessment (REIA) and he is minded to consider a range of new measures 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.

My hon. Friend the Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning has asked officials to work with the Learning and Skills Council and other partners to finalise the detail urgently.