The Funding Crisis in Further Education

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2005 Local Government Service Group Conference
10 June 2005

The Government promised financial stability in FE in its “Success for All” reforms in 2002. It recognised that annual funding allocations lead to short-term planning, restricting the ability to take strategic decisions because of uncertainty about future income flows. A three-year funding strategy, with an extra £1 billion was promised.

Additional funding has been consumed by increased demand, such as the 14-19 and skills agenda. The funding gap between colleges and schools continues at 10%. Adult learning has been classified as “non-essential” and the funding for about 200,000 places has been cut.

Annual and late funding announcements continue to infuse the sector with anxiety. In May 2005 the Learning and Skills Council published funding allocations which were even lower than expected and too late for colleges to make other than crude adjustments to their spending plans.

Redundancy levels in the sector are already high; 16% in 2004, that is 10 full time posts per college. But Conference is concerned that this latest funding crisis is likely to see that figure double for 2005. In the past few weeks the number of colleges threatening redundancies has increased significantly.

Conference, therefore, calls on the SGE to develop a strategy to defend its FE members. This must include:

1)An immediate approach to the Secretary of State for Education and Skills and Minister for FE/HE

2)Lobbying and briefing MPs through mechanisms at all levels

3)Coalition campaigning with other unions, interested organisations, students and the public

4)Supporting branches in local, focused campaigns

5)Collecting and disseminating information on funding and redundancies

Ensuring that members in individual colleges have adequate support to negotiate in this hostile climate and to develop local strategies to fight job cuts, up to and including industrial action.