London mayor Sadiq Khan calls for government rethink on apprenticeship funding rates

London mayor Sadiq Khan has added his voice to those calling on the government to rethink proposed apprenticeship funding rates that would see cuts of up to 50 per cent for young people in the most deprived areas.

His concerns about the effect of such drastic cuts on social mobility and on young people in the capital were outlined in a letter dated October 12 to Tottenham MP David Lammy and seen by FE Week.

“I am concerned that these proposals may be in conflict with the government’s social mobility agenda and could make it more difficult to achieve my manifesto pledge of creating a fairer and more equal city, as well as achieve my commitment to create thousands of new, high quality apprenticeships that will play a vital part in securing opportunities for young Londoners,” he wrote.

“The proposed removal of both the area cost adjustment and the disadvantage uplift may result in some of the most vulnerable people from the most deprived areas of London being excluded from accessing apprenticeship opportunities on the basis of cost, and I have responded to the government’s consultation setting out the challenges the new funding system will present to London.”

He said he asked the deputy mayor for skills, Jules Pipe, to meet with apprenticeships minister Robert Halfon to discuss the funding rates.

Mr Khan’s letter comes after growing anger from politicians, employers and providers since FE Week published its analysis of the provisional apprenticeship funding rates in August.

These showed funding for 16- to 18-year-olds in some of England’s poorest areas could drop by up to 50 per cent for starts from 1 May 2017.

Last week Mr Lammy applied for a backbench House of Commons debate on the cuts, noting that the government had “serious questions” to answer on the issue.

His debate application followed a letter from Mr Lammy, motivated by FE Week’s research and co-signed by 50 MPs, to Mr Halfon in early September calling on the government to reverse the cuts.

And on September 14, the FE Week #SaveOurApprenticeships campaign against the devastating cuts was launched at the Houses of Parliament to a packed gathering of senior leaders and politicians.

Last week senior Department for Education officials gave the clearest public indication yet that they will go at least some way to reversing the proposed huge funding cuts.

During an evidence session for the Public Accounts Committee, Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary to the DfE, said that getting the funding rate correct for young people from deprived areas “is one of the most active debates we’ve been working through” and that “we’re doing our best to get that right”.

He added this issue was “a very strong point that’s been made during the consultation phase and how we get that right is one of the most active debates we’ve been working through”.

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