'A world class skills system needs more investment than this after more than a decade of cuts' - Association of Colleges responds to Autumn Budget 2021

27 Oct 2021

Responding to the Chancellor's budget in full, Chief Executive of AoC, David Hughes said: 

“It’s clear that the Chancellor and this Government recognise that more investment in skills is vital for economic growth and their levelling up ambitions. So it is disappointing that despite lots of warm words about the importance of skills, and a long list of separate funding pots, overall investment does not look like it is going up by much at all. A world class skills system needs more investment than this after more than a decade of cuts. Good rhetoric about skills will not level up the country - colleges will do that with the right investment.

Government’s consistent refusal to increase the funding per student post-16 is baffling. The funding per adult will not have gone up in 14 years by the end of 2024/25, unlike in schools where per pupil funding will match 2010/11 levels in real terms.

There were some wins for young people and adults which are important to recognise. 16 to19-year-olds were some of the hardest hit by the pandemic and have the least amount of time to get back on track, so the announcement of an education recovery package is to be welcomed. We will now spend time working with DfE on making sure that this is a real, meaningful investment and goes to where it is needed the most. 

Increased access to, and funding for, level 3 qualifications and T Levels can only be a good thing, but not everybody will be able to access them or be ready for that level of study and many will need re-training which is not funded properly. That results in a worrying amount of people falling through the cracks who need better support to be able to get ready to even start a level 3 in the first place. We saw no real support for them today. 

‘A stronger economy for the British people’ will ring hollow without addressing the very real challenges still facing the education and skills system. A levelled up country needs levelled up colleges that are adequately supported and invested in to deliver the skills for economic prosperity.”

Further details of the Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review are available here.