MP in joint bid to reverse £3m adult skills funding cut
MP was among four local MPs who held an emergency meeting this week
with the Skills Minister to try and reverse a massive £3.3
million funding cut imposed on community education provider Somerset
Skills and Learning.
Heappey joined three other Conservative MPs - Marcus Fysh, Rebecca
Pow and David Warburton - in meeting with Anne Milton to "urgently
review" the 97 per cent cut to Somerset Skills & Learnings
adult education budget, which we featured here
earlier this week.
a move that will be watched closely by other training providers
facing cuts across the UK, the MPs have been promised a return meeting
on Monday which, with other interested parties, will include representatives
from the funding agency.
adult community learning provider, which is rated 'good' by Ofsted
and has around 200 staff, recently won a new contract during the
Education and Skills Funding Agency's recent tender, but was awarded
a mere £111,000 a tiny proportion of the £3.4
million that it was allocated last year.
have now been put on hold by the provider, including in Burnham-On-Sea,
as the organisation faces a catastrophic reduction in provision
at ten centres across Somerset.
Milton said that due to the "urgency" of the situation,
the MPs will meet her and Department for Education representatives
on Monday "to see what steps can be taken to safeguard the
needs of local people."
was founded 75 years ago and delivers a wide range of education
services including training, apprenticeships and learning opportunities
to more than 10,000 young people and adults across Somerset.
has a centre in Burnham-On-Sea's Princess Street, pictured, plus
others in Bridgwater, Wells, Chard, Frome, Ilminster, Minehead,
Taunton, Wellington and Yeovil.
funded through Somerset County Council, in 2015 SS&L was required
to transition to a CIC (Community Interest Company). Each year the
organisation applies for and has previously been awarded procurement
funding of around £3.5m but this year the Skills Funding Agency
found their application fell short, so only awarded £111,000.
Heappey said: "Increasing the level of skills and education
in our county is the foundation on which increased productivity
and economic growth will be built. To lose the services of SS&L
would be a huge blow to our plans for Somersets economy. Im
glad the Minister has engaged so promptly and hope this can be resolved
as quickly as possible."
David Warburton MP added: "Its imperative that the government
immediately reviews this drastic reduction. My Somerset MP colleagues
and I have been in touch directly with Susie Simon-Norris, SS&Ls
chief executive and Councillor David Fothergill, leader of Somerset
County Council. We have written to the Skills and Funding Agency
to express our outrage at this hugely damaging withdrawal of funding,
which will have catastrophic consequences for both the people of
Somerset and our local economy."
Fysh MP said: "The apparent short notice of the funding change
is also causing problems for people signed up for courses, so our
thanks go to the Minister for such a prompt response."
Pow MP commented: "Somerset Skills and Learning has provided
invaluable resources both in terms of trainee apprenticeships and
for the community with many organisations relying on the funding
granted to deliver a wide range of services. Though often the money
awarded may seem small, the impact it has through the work of the
organisations involved makes a huge difference to those who benefit
from their services. It is vital that we reach a solution to support
the services provided by SS&L and my colleagues and I have been
making the strongest possible case to the Minister."
the meeting on Wednesday, the Somerset MPs described the vital significance
of SS&L to Skills Minister Anne Milton MP.
Minister responded: "Due to the urgency of the situation, Somerset
MPs have been able to secure a meeting on Monday with the Department
for Education to see what steps can be taken to safeguard the needs
of local people."