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Greg slams Labour's stealth cuts for adult education and people with learning disabilities

November 20, 2009 11:15 AM

Lib Dem parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle East Greg Stone has warned that the Labour government is embarking on stealth cuts to spending on adult education classes and support for people with learning disabilities.

The Government's skills budget for 2010/11, published this week without publicity, identified a £150m cut in funding for non-qualification access courses often taken by people with learning disabilities and older people. The number of places will be cut by 63% from 583,000 this year to 213,000 next year.

The number of students expected to benefit from the so-called "developmental learning" budget, will shrink from 583,000 this year to 213,000 next year.

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, will raise this issue at the annual conference of the Association of Colleges in Birmingham today. commenting: "These plans will come as a bitter blow to the hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people who will see their courses disappear. It is incredibly cynical of the government to slip this news out in an obscure policy document and not be upfront about the impact that these cuts will have.

"While it is vital that we take a strategic approach to skills, it is absurd to stop funding courses which bring a range of benefits to individuals and wider society. Not only are they important in keeping people active but they can also work as an important stepping stone back into education for those who may have had a poor experience at school."

Evening classes that don't result in a qualification have been culled dramatically in recent years after the government pledged to focus spending ensuring as many people as possible have GCSE-level qualifications.

Greg Stone said "I understand that there needs to be an overall focus on qualifications and technical skills needed for the 21st century economy in the Government's overall skills budget, but I believe that it would be a deeply backward step for the Government to stop funding adult evening classes and access classes for people with learning difficulties. I am in close contact with Newcastle city council's City Learning division about this issue, and am concerned about the implications for local provision at locations like the Heaton centre on Trewhitt Road."