'Levelling up' requires investment in skills: AoC response to the Budget

11 Mar 2020

Today (Wednesday 11 March) the Chancellor of the Exchequer published the long-awaited budget. With the ongoing contingency planning to contain the coronavirus and limit the impact it has on communities and business, the budget announced a £30bn package to support workers and employers. While it looks like we will have to wait until later in the year for concrete long-term spending plans, the budget made key policy announcements on National Insurance contributions, alcohol, tobacco and fuel, emergency relief for communities affected by flooding, scrapping the tampon tax, business rates and the state of the economy. 

Specifically on further education and skills, the Chancellor has reconfirmed funding for college capital in England's colleges at £1.5bn. In supporting documents the promised £2.5bn for the National Skills Fund is also confirmed, alongside £95 million for T level providers to invest in facilities and industry-standard equipment.

Responding to the budget, Chief Executive, David Hughes said: 

“It was to be expected and absolutely right that the budget would focus on the coronavirus. We should all be glad that the government’s immediate priority is about containing the outbreak and keeping the country running.

Despite that, I am confident that the Chancellor also has his sights set on the comprehensive spending review later this year, to be able to focus on the longstanding and profound challenges we face. These include climate change, productivity, prosperity and supporting the 50% of the adult population that Augar identified as being neglected and under-funded. Colleges will be at the heart of those plans because they are where businesses are supported, communities developed, and individuals given the opportunity to get on.

We’re working with the Government to secure large scale, long term, transformative investments and policies which will put colleges centre-place in communities across the country. In the meantime, today showed a clear shift in attitude towards technical and vocational education, after a decade of neglect. Colleges will be keen to access the £1.5bn capital funding, help shape the new National Skills Fund and make sure that the Shared Prosperity Fund works for their communities and for the people and employers they support.

To create a truly transformative post-16 education system the comprehensive spending review later this year must commit to long-term investment ensuring no one is left behind.”

Page 48 of the published budget document refers to Skills and further education commitments. 

You can also read Julian Gravatt's budget round up here