Londoners on less than the living wage of £19,890 can access free training next year

Adults in the capital who earn less than the London living wage will have their training fully funded from 2019/20.

The commitment was revealed this morning at the launch of the mayor’s new Skills for Londoners plan.

It follows an announcement made by Education and Skills Funding Agency last week that low-paid workers across the country would be eligible for free courses in 2018/19, through a one-year pilot.

However, London mayor Sadiq Khan has set the funding threshold significantly higher.

The ESFA’s policy will apply to adults aged 19 and above earning under £15,736.50 per year, based on the Social Mobility Commission’s low-pay threshold of £8.07 and the assumption of a 37.5-hour contract with paid statutory holiday entitlement.

Jules Pipe, Mr Khan’s deputy for planning, regeneration and skills, promised to increase this threshold to the London living wage – which is currently £19,890 a year.

Speaking to FE Week after the launch event, Mr Pipe said the GLA made the choice “because of the disparity of living costs in London”. 

Jules Pipe, London’s deputy mayor for skills

“For it to have the same effect here in the capital the benchmark would have to be the London living wage rather than the national benchmark that the government has chosen,” he said.

The change will come into effect when the capital’s adult education budget is devolved next year.

Mr Pipe said he had been looking into offering other free training for low-paid workers, particularly English courses for speakers of other languages before the ESFA’s announcement.

“We want to be able to widen participation and potential access to people, specifically in low-paid work, to upskill and then advance in their careers instead of getting stuck,” he said.

The ESFA’s policy will see tens of thousands of adults on low wages become eligible for free training courses in 2018/19.

Adult learners currently have to be on benefits to receive full funding for education courses.

The living wage is calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and the Living Wage Commission, and is based on the actual cost of living.

It’s currently set at £10.20 an hour in London and £8.75 an hour in the rest of the UK.

This translates as an annual salary of £19,890 in London, and £17,062.50 outside London.

The GLA is set to take control of its £311 million AEB from 2019/20, as one of eight regions with devolution deals in place.

FE Week revealed last month that Mr Khan was planning to top-slice around one per cent of this to fund over 50 new bureaucrats, who will form a skills and employment unit to dish the money out when devolution kicks in.

And it emerged this week that the same unit is also gearing up to use even more of the cash to lobby for control of 16-to-18 funding.