Morgan’s funding rate assurance leads to long-term security plea

Sector figures have called for long-term funding security after Education Secretary Nicky Morgan (pictured) told MPs the government had “no plans” to cut the 18-year-old funding rate again next year.

The 157 Group and the Sixth Form Colleges’ Association (SFCA) welcomed comments from Ms Morgan during education questions in Parliament on Monday (October 27).

She said: “We have no plans to reduce the 16 to 18 academic funding rate in the 2015/16 academic year.”

Colleges and sixth form colleges were hit this academic year with a 17.5 per cent funding rate for full time 18-year-olds — a move implemented by Ms Morgan’s predecessor, Michael Gove.

Funding for 16 and 17-year-olds remained untouched from the previous year, at £4,000, while for 18-year-olds the rate fell to £3,300.

However, Ms Morgan further told MPs: “We can’t confirm the base rate of funding until we know how many places we’re going to fund and we won’t know that until January.”

The comments came just days after FE Week revealed Education Funding Agency director for young people Peter Mucklow had written to tell providers the 16 to 18 funding rate for 2015/16 would not be announced until January.

Executive director of the 157 Group Lynne Sedgmore said: “While this message provides some stability within which to plan for one year, it implies further cuts are still to come after that.

“16 to 18-year-old education has already borne the brunt of cuts to date. What we need is a truly long term funding settlement so that we can plan beyond every individual year.”

David Igoe, chief executive of the SFCA, said: “This is a recognition that sixth form colleges have been cut to the bone and cannot sustain further cuts without serious consequences to delivery.

“In the face of further funding pressures within the DfE we were fearful of further cuts being announced this autumn.”

He added: “The new government after May 2015 needs to address the inequalities in the funding system to ensure the 16 to 18 phase receives its fair share of the available resource and sufficient to continue to provide the rounded education young people need to make the progress they are capable of and aspire to.”

Association of Colleges assistant chief executive Julian Gravatt said: “It is good news that there is no plan to change the funding formula.

“However, big issues remain, including the lack of protective ringfence for funding the education of 16 to 18-year-olds and the additional pension and national insurance costs heading towards colleges.”