Steve joins campaign against apprenticeship funding cuts

Steve Reed has joined a campaign against the Government’s planned cuts to apprenticeship funding.

The changes would mean funding for apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds would be cut by around 30% – and rising to 50% in deprived areas.

Steve has joined other Labour MPs in signing a letter to Robert Halfon, who is Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills.

The full text of the letter, which Steve has signed, is below.

Re: Funding rates cuts for apprenticeships

Dear Robert,

We are writing to you regarding the proposed funding rates for apprenticeships from 1st May 2017, as published by the Skills Funding Agency on Friday 19th August. Based on the proposed upper funding limits for 16-18 year old apprentices, current rates paid to colleges and training providers will be cut by around 30%, rising to over 50% or more for apprentices living in the most deprived areas of our country.

Analysis undertaken by FE Week shows that the two most popular apprenticeships measured by total volume of 16-18 year old starts – level 2 apprenticeships in Business Administration and Construction – face between 27% and 52% cuts dependent on location.

After years of brutal austerity cuts that have hit people living in the most deprived areas hardest year after year, and we are particularly concerned about the removal of the ‘disadvantage uplift’ for an apprenticeship living in a deprived area. By stark contrast, many older apprentices working at larger employers who do not live in deprived areas will see their proposed funding rates increase.

Mark Dawe, chief executive of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, has already warned that many providers are extremely concerned about these cuts and are likely to “withdraw provision altogether because the rates will not be viable” in terms of basic delivery or for offering a good quality apprenticeship programme.

These cuts hugely undermine the Government’s pledge to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, and also entirely contradict the Prime Minister’s promise to “help anybody, whatever your background, go as far as your talents will take you” and create a country and economy that “works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us”.

We are particularly concerned that the impact of these funding cuts will be devastating in deprived areas where unemployment rates are already well above the national average, especially when taken in combination with the scrapping of maintenance grants to support young people from low income backgrounds who hope to go onto higher education.

We believe that the Government needs to be doing much more to help young people from working class and low income backgrounds into skilled employment, instead of cutting funding rates for apprenticeships. These cuts would be a step in the wrong direction and we call on you to reverse them.

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