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English Language: Equal Opportunities

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will conduct a race equality impact assessment on the changes to English speakers of other languages provision which will be in place from September 2007. (126635)

A race equality impact assessment regarding the changes to English for speakers of other languages is now complete and will be published shortly.

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.