Adult Learning

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2007 Retired Members' Conference
13 June 2007

Conference condemns the decision to remove the entitlement to concessions for pensioners attending day and evening classes other than for those in receipt of pensions credit.

For many decades all pensioners could access day and evening classes either free or at a nominal cost. This allowed many people who had not previously had access to education, adult or otherwise, to enrol for subjects including GCSE and A-level, as well as a whole range of academic and non-vocational classes. The value of such options for pensioners cannot be overstated. As well as providing the opportunity for learning it also offers an important social network for people who may otherwise be socially isolated and at a time when they are adjusting to life after work.

The decision by the Government to transfer responsibility for adult learning from local authority education departments to the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has signalled this change in emphasis and the removal of concessions to everyone not in receipt of means tested benefits. This has resulted in many pensioners being unable to attend classes as the fees can be prohibitive for anyone on a modest pension above the state minimum.

Conference believes this is a retrograde step which impinges on the rights of pensioners to have access to further education and learning in their later years, and agrees that concessions for pensioners enrolling for adult learning classes should be re-introduced.

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to:

1)liaise with the National Executive Council to look at ways of addressing this issue including, if appropriate, liaison with Labour Link;

2)urge all retired members to write to their MPs seeking re-introduction of these concessions;

3)report back to Retired Members’ Conference 2008.