Provider budgets set for 15 pc cut, but apprenticeships protected

Further education providers face a 15 per cent cut in their adult skills budget allocations, the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has revealed.

In a letter to providers, SFA chief executive Barbara Spicer said although funding for apprenticeships and traineeships was being “prioritised”, remaining funding would be cut by 15 per cent.

It provides the first indication of the impact of a 19 per cent two-year adult skills budget cut outlined in the Skills Funding Statement last month, and means the average-sized college could see between £400,000 and £800,000 wiped from its non-apprentice and traineeship adult skills funding.

Ms Spicer said: “In prioritising the funding for apprenticeships and traineeships, the remainder of the ASB will reduce by 15 per cent.”

Meanwhile, FE Loan pots have also gone up as directed by the 2013-16 Skills Funding Statement.

Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges (AoC), said it had been a “significant” week for colleges, after a letter from Skills Minister Matthew Hancock last night revealed a 2 per cent cap on the financial impact of a 17.5 per cent funding rate cut for full-time 18-year-old learners.

He said: “Firstly, they received confirmation that the funding they receive to provide adults with skills and qualifications will decline by 15 per cent on average — a major, if not unexpected, disappointment.

“They then heard about the mitigation put in place to help those affected particularly badly by the cut in funding for 18-year-olds. We are pleased that the Minister has heard the concerns of colleges and MPs across the country.

“Both AoC and colleges understand that they need to take their fair share of austerity as the government seeks to rebalance the books.

“However, it is time for politicians to think seriously about what they want colleges to achieve on behalf of the nation and to what extent this should be funded by the taxpayer and to what extent by employers and the students themselves.

“For example, the Department for Education cannot continue to protect some of its budget and not the rest — this is unsustainable especially as we raise the education participation age to 18.

“Meanwhile, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills needs to review the amount of money it devotes to adult students, in both further and higher education, and consider whether they are being treated equally with other students.”