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Building Colleges for the Future Programme

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 5 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (1) how many applications for capital funding from the Building Colleges for the Future programme were made by (a) further education and (b) sixth form colleges (i) in the 2006-07 academic year and (ii) at the latest date for which figures are available; (254190)

(2) what capital expenditure from the Building Colleges for the Future programme in the (a) 2007-08 and (b) 2008-09 academic years has been allocated to (i) further education and (ii) sixth form colleges;

(3) how many projects relating to (a) further education and (b) sixth form colleges were affected by the moratorium on decisions on capital spending under the Building Colleges for the Future programme;

(4) what estimate he has made of the value of projects affected by the moratorium on decisions on capital spending under the Building Colleges for the Future programme.

In 1997, the total capital expenditure in further education colleges in England was nil. Since 1997, this Government have invested £2.4 billion in redeveloping and modernising further education colleges. In addition, we have plans to invest a further £2.3 billion in the next three years. Currently more than 250 projects are under way and funded by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC)—helped by the recent decision to accelerate £110 million in 2008-09 from future budgets to help beat the downturn.

In total, since the programme began, nearly 700 projects, at 330 colleges have been agreed.

The pace of demand for capital funding has increased. In addition, there are signs that the ability of colleges to raise their own funds for proposed projects is being affected by the downturn.

It is for this reason that over the next few weeks the Learning and Skills Council is working closely with colleges that have submitted or are working on bids, to look at the individual current positions before making further funding decisions. As a result of this, the consideration of a small number of applications that were due for decision—both in principle and in detail—has been deferred from December to March.

As your question relates to an operational matter for the LSC, Mark Haysom, the LSC chief executive, will write to the hon. Member with the further information requested. A copy of his letter will be placed in both Libraries.