Breaking: Halfon sets out priorities for 2017-18 in skills funding letter

Breaking: Halfon sets out priorities for 2017-18 in skills funding letter

Spending priorities for 2017-18 have been set out by minister Robert Halfon in the annual Skills Funding letter.

The letter from the skills and apprenticeships minister to Skills Funding Agency boss Peter Lauener has just been uploaded onto gov.uk.

There are no surprises in terms of spending plan, with the £1.5bn commitment to support participation in adult FE through the adult education budget the same as last year.

But Mr Halfon signed-off with an intriguing final paragraph, looking ahead towards further change.

He said: “We are committed to investing in and strengthening the FE sector and are in the process of exploring opportunities to further build upon the important reforms already in train.

“I will write to update you of the government priorities for the sector once this work is complete.”

The minister stressed that the government remained committed to priorities set out in the 2016-17 skills funding letter.

He said: “We are retaining our commitment to maintaining funding for the adult education budget.”

“For 2017-18, we are investing £1.9 billion to fund participation in apprenticeship training for all ages; £1.5 billion to support participation in adult further education through the adult education budget, and £325 million available for provision at levels three to six through advanced learner loans,” he added.

Mr Halfon said he would leave it to Mr Lauener and his team to continue the implementation “of our high level priorities”.

“Please continue to work with the Department [for Education], in developing government funding policies and to make arrangements for monitoring progress and resolving any issues as they arise,” he said.

“I would like to thank you and your team for all that you have done over the past year and look forward to our continued progress going forward.”

This is likely to be the last skills funding letter to Mr Lauener.

FE Week reported on March 3 that the Education and Skills Funding Agencies are preparing for an imminent merger that will clear the way for him to retire. Mr Lauener held the role of EFA chief executive before he took on the top job at the SFA in November 2014.