Adult skills budget facing further cuts

In an open letter to the apprenticeship sector, Peter Lauener, director of the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has announced fresh cuts to all non-apprenticeship Adult Skills Budgets (ASB).

All colleges and training providers in the UK will suffer a 3.9 per cent budget cut in their non-apprenticeship adult skills and discretionary learner support allocations.

The budget cuts will take place within the 2015 to 2016 financial year (April 2015 to March 2016), so some learning providers may already be suffering from cuts.

This is the second time this year that the apprenticeship sector has suffered cutbacks. In February the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced that funding towards ASB will be cut by almost £250m, an 11 per cent decrease on 2014-15.

‘‘Together with BIS and ministers, we agreed that this was the most simple and transparent approach to achieve the necessary savings and to mitigate any disproportionate impact on individual colleges and other training organisations,’’ stated Lauener.

‘‘I am committed to further simplifying the adult funding system and will work with Association of Colleges, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers and other partners over the coming months to design practical ways we can simplify arrangements for the 2015 to 2016 operating year and improve forward planning for subsequent years,’’ he adds.

Funding for apprenticeships will not be affected by the cuts, with the Lauener declaring that ‘‘apprenticeships remain the government’s top skills priority: they are critical in ensuring people have a high quality training route in their chosen career.’’

According to a BIS spokeswoman, young adults will receive training despite the budget cuts.

‘‘While the total adult skills budget has been reduced, funding available for apprenticeships has increased since 2010,’’ claimed the spokeswoman.

‘‘We expect to spend around £1 billion on skills for 19-23 year-olds alone in 2014/15.’’

‘‘Up to £80 million of capital funding will be matched by employers over 2015-16 and 2016-17 – a potential total investment of £160 million by 2017 for the National Colleges programme.’’

‘‘These colleges will help train people in sectors where there is a skills gap and demand from employers.’’