From the TUC

Cuts Watch #15: Cuts to education and skills

24 May 2010, by in Cuts Watch

The main cuts to education and skills announced today comprise £200M from the higher education budget, £200M from the budget for the Train to Gain skills programme, and a range of ‘efficiency savings’ applied to skills quangos.

The £200M cut to Train to Gain actually involves a refocusing of this expenditure on apprenticeships and college buildings rather than a direct cut. In effect this means that the overall cut to the BIS budget of £836M is in effect scaled back to £636M. Out of the £200M saving from Train to Gain, £150M will go to creating an additional 50,000 apprenticeships. The other £50M will go to supporting capital investment in colleges.

The Treasury press notice says that the additional apprenticeships will be ‘focused on small and medium enterprises’ and David Laws says in his speech that the £150M will be focused on ‘adult apprenticeships’ (which actually refers to people aged over 19).  A related commitment by the Department for Education promising to safeguard education and skills provision for 16-19 year-olds means that the number of young apprenticeships should remain as previously planned.

Whilst it is welcome that there will be more apprenticeship places and improvements to college buildings, there are a number of unanswered questions about the impact of the changes to Train to Gain on the total number of planned training places.  First, the move to divert £50M to FE capital means that an equivalent amount will be cut from the budget for directly training employees.  Secondly, diverting money to apprenticeships will mean taking it away from other priority areas (e.g. training directed at people with few or no qualifications, including basic skills training). It is difficult to tell at this stage what the overall reduction in training places will be as a result, but it is bound to be significant.

The statement by BIS also announced a cut of £11M to the UK vocational reform programme which largely refers to the large scale project to develop a new Qualifications and Credit Framework so that qualifications can be broken down into units and credits.

As widely anticipated, ‘efficiency savings’ will be applied to a number of skills quangos but there is no mention of actual abolishing any at this stage, though doubtless this is still on the cards for some of them.  However, it was announced today that one of the education quangos – BECTA – will be abolished.

The cut to the HE budget of £200M comprises a reduction in the Modernisation Fund of £118M (down from £250m to £132m). This is the funding that had been announced by the previous government to provide 20,000 additional student places in the forthcoming academic year – there will now only be 10,000 additional places. There is also an additional £82m of efficiency savings applied to the HE sector.

Today’s announcement contained  much better news for the schools budget, the budget for education and skills provision for 16-19 year-olds, and the Sure Start budget.  The government has committed to protect these areas from ‘any in-year spending cuts.’  However, according to the BBC website these commitments conceal the fact that there will be reductions to funding in these areas via other means, including cuts to national initiatives to support literacy and numeracy in schools, cuts to local authority funding for schools in some areas, and cuts to the fledgling 14-19 vocational diplomas.

7 Responses to Cuts Watch #15: Cuts to education and skills

  1. Cuts Watch: a summary | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC
    May 24th 2010, 4:09 pm

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  3. Ian Stigar
    May 25th 2010, 9:06 am

    Does anyone know how this will affect training providers with a Train to gain contract for the delivery of NVQ’s?

  4. Iain Murray

    Iain Murray
    May 26th 2010, 9:37 am

    At this stage it is not exactly clear how individual providers will be affected but undoubtedly much less NVQ training will be delivered under Train to Gain as funding is diverted to apprenticeships. It is also likely that this is just the beginning of this trend and that an increasing proportion of Train to Gain funding will be diverted in this way over the longer term. More information should be available by the time of the Budget on 22 June.

  5. Ian Rule
    May 28th 2010, 10:24 am

    It’s only a gut feeling at the moment, but I read somewhere that the £200m cut is equivalent to half teh starts in 2010/11… clearly though, that will vary by provider depending on the level of carry-over from 2009/10.

  6. Helen P
    Jun 13th 2010, 10:58 pm

    I have spoken to a number of preffessionals in Further and Secondary education as well HE lecturers in education who would like to see the Institute for Learning be cut. In my professional experience it is neither use nor ornament. Also, the formerly known LSE,now FSA, had been found out to be incompetent in its last review but it only got renamed as FSA instead of monitoring its incompetent performance. Another one that the government should consider axing as it has not been doing its job for years now as a lot of professionals in education are aware from management to teachers.

  7. steve
    Jun 20th 2010, 7:51 pm

    Im happy for the cuts, as a training provider we worked for three companies who had train to gain contracts, as soon as the cuts started last year they held back monies we had earned, and we are still owed thousands, these companies and others are just a bunch of companies skimming money to alow others to do the work and then not paying up.