To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how much money his Department has spent on digital inclusion for adults in response to the covid-19 outbreak.
2 September 2020
We are continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB), investing £1.34 billion in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have introduced a change to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Adult Education Budget (AEB) Funding Rules for 2020/21 academic year, to enable providers to use their Learner Support funds to purchase IT devices for learners (aged 19+) and to help them meet learners’ IT connectivity costs, where these costs are a barrier to accessing or continuing in their training. For full details, the ESFA AEB Funding Rules for 2020/21 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/adult-education-budget-aeb-funding-rules-2020-to-2021.
In April, we launched The Skills Toolkit – a new online learning platform to help people boost their skills – including digital – while staying at home. It covers a wide range of high-quality materials to allow people to upgrade their skills – from every day maths to learning to code.
From August 2020, alongside the existing legal entitlements to English and maths, we introduced an entitlement to full funding of specified digital qualifications. Adults with no or low digital skills now have the opportunity to undertake improved digital skills qualifications, based on new national standards for essential digital skills, free of charge up to Level 1.
We are also supporting the Future Digital Inclusion (FDI) programme by up to £3 million in 2020-21. FDI is managed by the Good Things Foundation and delivered through the 5,000 strong Online Centres Network. This programme targets the most digitally excluded and hardest to reach in society to improve their basic digital skills, with the vast majority progressing onto further learning and employment, and gaining the ability to use online public services independently. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have supported Good Things Foundation to pivot online centre delivery by supporting learners with digital skills remotely through telephone and video calling. This has helped people within the community to use the internet and stay safe online, including finding government or health advice, ordering prescriptions online, paying bills or making a claim for Universal Credit, and staying in touch with family and friends.