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Public Spending Review

1 November 2010

Government cuts and changes around learning & skills

More detailed information will become available soon but the headline information so far is a cut of 25 per cent for the Business Innovation and Skills Department which funds learning and skills. They are looking to shift funding responsibility away from the Government and towards individuals and employers; including though the introduction of more student loans, and “by exploring mechanisms to increase employer contributions such as voluntary training levies”.

Adult Skills
- Train to Gain abolished
- An increase in adult apprenticeship funding by £250 million a year by 2014-15 creating 75,000 additional places
- Funding for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) for people “not in settled communities” will be abolished in 2012.
- Continued support for basic skills provision around purely basic numeracy and literacy skills – no mention of IT training

Further Education
- The Further Education resource budget will be reduced by 25%, or £1.1billion, from £4.3 billion to £3.2 billion by 2014-15.
- Guaranteed education maintenance allowances for 16-18 year olds replaced by local discretionary grants for the most disadvantaged young people
- The entitlement to free training for a first full level 2 qualification for those over 25 removed.
- Further education students aged 24 and over studying for a level 3 qualification (A-level equivalent – personal interest or work related) will be asked to pay fees. These students could now access a government-backed loan for the fees etc - with repayments dependent on the learner’s income as with university graduates now.
- A clear expectation that adult learners and employers will contribute more to the cost of further education.

Higher Education
- Overall resource budget for Higher Education, excluding research funding, will reduce from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion, a 40%, or £2.9 billion, reduction by 2014-15. The Department will continue to fund teaching for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
- A National Scholarship fund of £150 million a year by 2014 15 for students on the lowest incomes.
- Student loans to continue for full and, for the first time, part time students.
- From the 2012- 13 academic year, universities will be able to increase graduate contributions – i.e. higher tuition fees!

Careers Service
- The Government states that it “will also improve the quality of information and advice for all, including through the development of an all-age careers service” i.e. it will get rid of the young people’s career service Connexions.

Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland
- Like all parts of the UK, the devolved administrations will bear a share of the cuts, although they will not be disproportionately affected. The reduction to their overall budget will however be slightly better than the UK average. [Do we smell politics?] The three devolved national governments will allocate these reduced budgets in line with local needs and priorities.

English, Scottish, Northern Ireland, Welsh Union Learning Fund
- More information in November.

Next steps
- TSSA is launching a major campaign around the cuts. Learning and skills will, unfortunately, be yet one more aspect of an area where we will be seeking to build the largest possible alliance to push back some of these attacks on working people. More information soon how you can build the campaign as Union Learning Reps.

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