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Spring budget is an "own goal", warns AoC

6th March 2024

Jeremy Hunt Parliament

David Hughes, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges, said:

“The Chancellor missed another opportunity today to back his quest for economic growth by investing in the skills which will drive it. The lack of much-needed funding for colleges in today’s spring budget will mean skills shortages will continue to hamper employers who are struggling to find the skilled people they need to grow. There is a simple reality, that the Prime Minister’s economic priorities cannot be achieved without an boost in investment in skills through colleges.

“College budgets and staff will benefit a little from the national insurance cut, but in a tax-cutting budget, the Chancellor has missed the opportunity to scrap the unfair VAT rules imposed on colleges. That simple and fair move would have injected £210m into colleges to help meet the students needs.

“The government says its focus is to grow the economy, and yet the Chancellor has once again failed to invest in the skills which are an essential ingredient to achieve that. The Chancellor’s ambition for productivity gains across the public sector also require new skills in AI, machine learning, digital and other job specific subjects, but the funding is not there to support delivery of those skills in colleges.

"It looks like another year in which the incredible work colleges do will be in spite of the low pay, low investment and inadequate funding that colleges have to deal with; a true missed opportunity and an own goal.”