Spending Review

Spending review: funding boosts for 16-19 and adult training

Treasury trails skills spending announcements ahead of the spending review.

Treasury trails skills spending announcements ahead of the spending review.

23 Oct 2021, 22:30

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Boosts to college funding and T Level teaching hours are to be part of a £3 billion package for post 16 education and skills in next week’s autumn budget and spending review. 

The autumn budget and spending review will be taking place on Wednesday October 27. On the day, chancellor Rishi Sunak will release details of government spending for government departments for years 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25. This will be the first multi-year spending review since 2015. 

Part of the spending increase on skills will include £550 million for the national skills fund and has been earmarked to quadruple the number of places on the government’s flagship skills bootcamps, expand the level 3 adult offer and pay for 24,000 more traineeships per year.

Skills bootcamps were launched in Autumn 2020 and provide adults with a 16 week programme and job interview in a priority sector. They have quickly become a go-to skills intervention for the government, with an expansion announced earlier this year to help tackle the shortage of HGV drivers. 

The first evaluation of the rapid skills programmes was published last week but was unable to say how effective they were at supporting learners into jobs.

The spending review will also see more capital funding, with £830 million set to be allocated to “revitalising colleges in England” plus increases to the T Level capital programme. 

By the end of the spending review period, 2024/25, the apprenticeships budget will have increased to £2.7 billion, a £170 million increase. The Treasury says this will pay for “new improvements to support more small businesses to hire new apprentices”. More details are expected on Wednesday.

“Our future economic success depends not just on the education we give to our children but the lifelong learning we offer to adults.

“This £3 billion skills revolution builds on our Plan for Jobs and will spread opportunity across the UK by transforming post-16 education – giving people the skills they need to earn more and get on in life.”

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer

16 to 19 education will see the biggest jump in funding with a £1.6 billion increase by the end of the spending review period. Part of that will fund additional hours for “up to 100,000 young people taking T Levels”, the Treasury says. It’s unclear at this point what the rest of the 16-19 spending rise will be allocated to. 

A Treasury spokesperson told FE Week: “The £1.6bn is the increase to 16 to 19 year old’s funding in 2024-25. This is double the investment the government has made over the last two spending reviews (£691million in total). Further details will be announced in due course.”

In their spending review submission, the Association of Colleges called for extra 16 to 19 spending to fund places for more young people, increasing the per-student base rate and removing the rate cut for 18 year-olds.

Though today’s announcement falls short of the £2.3 billion extra 16 to 19 spending the AoC called for, its chief executive David Hughes said it is “encouraging to see increased investment in skills and education” adding “we always expected the increased funding wouldn’t go far enough, but in the circumstances we view this as a good start in a tough spending round”.

The absence of specifics on education catch-up funding did not pass Hughes by, commenting “as an optimist, I am hopeful that the lack of mention of education recovery is because of a significant announcement on Wednesday at the dispatch box”.

The autumn budget and spending review will take place in the House of Commons at approximately 12.30pm on Wednesday October 27. 

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