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Further Education Reforms

Volume 554: debated on Thursday 6 December 2012

The Government are today publishing the skills funding statement 2012-15 and the FE college capital investment strategy. I will e-mail all hon. Members and a copy of each will be placed in the Library of the House.

Since May 2010, the Government have made available over £330 million of new FE capital investment enabling college projects totalling over £1 billion. We have now allocated a total of £550 million for additional capital investment in the FE college estate in 2013-14 and 2014-15. £270 million of this represents new money announced in the autumn statement, over and above the spending review settlement for FE.

The FE college capital investment strategy sets out the Government’s priorities for capital funding over the remainder of this Parliament and sets the direction of travel for future years. The strategy also includes an outline delivery plan and new capital programmes which the Skills Funding Agency will develop with input from sector representatives and launch on its website before Christmas.

This year’s skills funding statement reaffirms our commitment to creating an FE system which secures the skills we need for everyone in Britain to succeed. We have delivered significantly increased flexibilities for colleges and FE providers; removed planning controls, enabling providers to be more responsive to their communities, achieved better value for money and delivered more with less. With tight budgets across the FE sector, these freedoms and flexibilities are now more important than ever.

This funding statement sets out how we will enable the sector to build upon these achievements in the years ahead:

Overall funding for adult FE and skills will be £4.1 billion in the 2013-14 financial year with £3.6 billion of this being routed through the Skills Funding Agency to support capacity for over three million learners.

We are prioritising Government funding on English and maths which are essential to enable people to function in society, progress into vocational learning and employment and to contribute more effectively at work. Funding will also be focused on young adults and the unemployed where skills training will help them to enter sustainable employment.

We welcome the Richard review and its emphasis on quality, high standards and rigour in apprenticeships in order to raise their status, value and impact. A consultation on the review will take place in the spring but any initial views or comments on the review are welcomed.

We are giving local enterprise partnerships a new strategic role over skills policy in line with the recommendations of the Heseltine review, to work closely with colleges and providers.

Employers play a crucial role in identifying and supporting the skills that we need for growth. Across the country, colleges are innovating and collaborating to build skills for growth. We want to encourage employer-led bodies to take the lead in designing the qualifications employers need, and ensuring that vocational qualifications are rigorous and valuable.

The skills funding statement and FE capital investment strategy set out in more detail how these priorities will be delivered.