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Community Learning

Volume 549: debated on Thursday 6 September 2012

This Government are committed to community learning. We have protected the budget, and I want to see funding increasingly targeted at the most disadvantaged people. Community learning trust pilots across England are testing new ways of better involving local communities in how that money is delivered.

I thank the Minister for that response. Does he agree that it is vitally important that there are opportunities to learn throughout life, and that having protected the community learning budget, it should be focused on those with ambitions to gain new skills throughout their life but not a great deal in the way of formal qualifications?

I do agree. I have already heard of the work that my hon. Friend has been doing in supporting Truro and Penwith college and Cornwall college. Improving our nation’s skills is vital for our economic prospects, but learning has intrinsic value in its own right. Henry Ford said:

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young”,

so I hope that I have discovered the secret of eternal youth.

Community learning flourished under the previous Government and is at risk under this one. In warmly welcoming the new Minister to his role and congratulating him, may I ask him to look at my recent letter to his predecessor about LymeNet community learning centre in Lyme Regis, which was set up in 1999? I saw its great work on visiting the Axminster Methodist church job club over the summer. Rural areas cannot afford the loss of community learning that is now on the cards.

I look forward to reading that letter, but I would say this: the budget for community learning has been protected in difficult fiscal times, and that shows the Government’s intentions in this area.