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Education: Finance

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL8212, tabled on 16 September 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to provide financial support (1) to further education, and (2) to sixth form, colleges.

Answered on

30 September 2020

The government previously announced on 31 August 2019 that it will invest an extra £400 million in 16-19 education in the academic year 2020-21. This is the largest injection of money in a single year since 2010 and represents an increase of 7% in overall 16-19 funding. As part of this, the base rate of 16-19 funding will increase by 4.7% in the academic year 2020-21, from £4,000 to £4,188.

In addition, through the 16-19 Tuition Fund we are providing funding of up to £96 million for the 2020-21 academic year. This will enable sixth form colleges, general further education (FE) colleges and other 16-19 providers to provide small group tuition for disadvantaged students whose learning has been disrupted as a result of COVID-19.

We are also continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in the 2020-21 academic year).

We have introduced a change to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) AEB Funding Rules for the 2020-21 academic year, to enable providers to use their Learner Support funds to purchase IT devices and meet learners’ IT connectivity costs.

We have also funded professional development support for staff to improve their skills and confidence in delivering online learning through funding the Education and Training Foundation and the EdTech Demonstrator Programme which delivers free training for FE providers.

The ESFA will continue to pay grant funded providers their scheduled monthly profiled payments for the 2020-21 academic year. Where applicable, providers were able to apply for the ESFA Post 16 and European Social Fund provider relief schemes for support. For colleges in significant financial difficulties the existing support arrangements remain in place, including short-term emergency funding.

My right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced an extensive and unprecedented package of support measures for businesses and employees - FE providers can apply to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for non-grant-funded employees, which has been extended until the end of October 2020.

In addition, we are funding 7 College Collaboration Fund projects to develop new high- quality digital curriculum content which will begin to be available for use by the sector from the Autumn.

In March this year, my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that we are going to transform FE colleges across the country, investing £1.5 billion in upgrading the FE college estate by 2025-6. On 29 June my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister announced that £200 million of this capital funding would be brought forward to this year. This funding has now been provided to FE colleges and they are taking forward projects to improve the condition of their estate, providing a welcome boost to the economy.

We are looking carefully at all elements of FE funding in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review.