that Burnham-On-Sea learning centre could be hit by cutbacks
Somerset community learning provider that has been hit hard by government
cuts says it is likely to close six centres and make over 50 redundancies
in the coming months - with fears that Burnham-On-Sea's centre could
Skills & Learning, which currently teaches around 10,000 students
and employs around 200 staff, has been left £1 million short
of funding after the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA)
made huge cuts.
provider at first faced a 97-per-cent cut in September a
figure which would have meant imminent closure.
following a campaign to lobby MPs including Burnham-On-Sea MP James
Heappey and ministers, the ESFA scaled back its cuts to funding
to private providers, and SS&L was given 75 per cent of its
required funding on a "transitional" basis.
Simon-Norris, SS&Ls chief executive, said this week that
a "radical" restructure is still under consideration.
have had to make some very tough decisions over the last few weeks
in an effort to keep SS&L a going concern," she said. "A
radical restructure has been proposed and this would sadly mean
losing almost a third of our staff and closing six centres to reduce
our overheads. We have no choice the funding cuts have left
us in a very difficult position."
Burnham-On-Sea centre in Princess Street, pictured here, is feared
to be among the six that could be affected.
was forced to put its courses on hold in August after it first received
a measly £111,000 allocation despite a successful
AEB tender 97 per cent less than the £3.4 million it
received in 2016/17.
on October 2nd the provider was told its allocation for 2017/18
had been raised to just over £2.4 million.
was one of many private providers to receive letters from the ESFA,
confirming that extra cash had been found to bring private providers'
AEB funding up to the value of 75 per cent of the amount they had
also need to drastically reduce our delivery of community learning
courses, a terrible blow for Somerset," said Ms Simon-Norris.
still dont think the government realises that by reducing
our funding as they have done, Somersets community misses
out on vital and unique community education, so we are determined
to keep lobbying to have this reinstated."
are the only county in the south-west to have had our community
learning budget stripped; this is unfair to Somerset and something
we intend to fight for."
organisation will continue to deliver apprenticeships, traineeships,
maths, English, digital skills and business-related courses across
Somerset, but will partner with community-based organisations to
deliver learning in the community.
we are proposing to reduce the numbers of centres to reduce overhead
costs, we will continue to deliver locally across Somerset by utilising
other venues," she added.
saddest and most difficult part, however, is having to let loyal,
long-standing and hard-working staff members go. Through no fault
of the organisation, many people will be losing their jobs just
before Christmas and I put this firmly at the door of the funding
body which has failed to understand the impact of the cuts to our
community and the service our staff provide. It is devastating."
are currently in redundancy consultations and centres are likely
to close in the coming months.