Minister tells critics of cuts to college funding to 'stop complaining'

Minister tells critics of cuts to college funding to 'stop complaining'

Tim Grant

Matthew Hancock with a cookery teacher

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Parliamentary Correspondent

A MINISTER sparked anger when he told critics of Government cuts to college funding to stop “complaining” – and ruled out a U-turn.

The shock 17.5 per cent - for those aged 18 at the start of this academic year – has angered Darlington College’s principal and alarmed many MPs.

The move will strip more than £300,000 from the college’s budget, cash meant for teenagers who are often striving to overcome troubled backgrounds.

But Matthew Hancock, the Conservative skills minister, insisted the cut - from £4,000 to £3,300, for a full-time 18-year-old - merely took college funding back to its 2012-13 level.

The minister denied he was punishing some of the less able, saying: “Those who are 18 in education are no more likely to be disadvantaged than anybody else.”

And he said it was no good “simply complaining about things”, adding: “It’s difficult being a minister when there’s no money left.”

But principal Tim Grant said: “Darlington college was notified, without any consultation, that our funding would be cut by 17.5 per cent.

“That has a huge impact on young people in our area and it’s going to have a significant impact on this college’s funding.

“I firmly believe these funding cuts are ill-targeted and are full of unintended consequences for the communities we serve.

“This is targeting the very students who need more support, not less, and it’s disingenuous to argue that students require less investment as a result of their prior studies.”

Jenny Chapman, the town’s Labour MP, said: “The minister is wrong. It may be small beer in cash terms, but this will make a substantial difference to individual colleges.

“They are already underfunded, yet they are the sector that most needs support, because the young people have often had real difficulties and need an extra year.”

The plan to cut funding for 18-year-olds at further education colleges from next September was buried in last month’s ‘mini Budget’.

Added to other cuts in the pipeline, colleges are on course to lose 25 per cent of their funding between 2010 and 2016, some leaders have warned.

Each college will be notified of the exact size of its cut within the next few weeks, Mr Hancock said – suggesting they would vary across the country.

He acknowledged colleges – unlike schools – paid VAT, but added: “It also gives the college much more power over borrowing, to manage its finances.”

The department for business (BIS) must plug a £1.4bn hole in his finances, but this has been blamed on chaos surrounding loans to students at private colleges.

Meanwhile, the Government has found huge sums for free-school meals for wealthier primary pupils (£600m) and the marriage tax break (around £800m).

Comments (7)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

10:12pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Voice-of-reality says...

A straight talking minister - a refreshing change.
A straight talking minister - a refreshing change. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: -9

10:14pm Tue 28 Jan 14

sineater says...

no U-turn,you heard it here first folks,
no U-turn,you heard it here first folks, sineater
  • Score: 0

10:32pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Winlinuser says...

This is on top of 12% cuts each year for the last 5 years!!!!! The real intention is the closure of the FE system and the promotion of private training companies.

I propose, given that ALL MP's are grossly underperforming, that they take a 50% pay cut immediately with a maximum cap on expenses of £5K. All expense claims must be evidenced.

I also suggest the creation of yet another Quango called Ofgov - an inspectorate to raise standards in Parliament. Scores of less that a 2 will result in immediate byelections.

Oh, if only.....
This is on top of 12% cuts each year for the last 5 years!!!!! The real intention is the closure of the FE system and the promotion of private training companies. I propose, given that ALL MP's are grossly underperforming, that they take a 50% pay cut immediately with a maximum cap on expenses of £5K. All expense claims must be evidenced. I also suggest the creation of yet another Quango called Ofgov - an inspectorate to raise standards in Parliament. Scores of less that a 2 will result in immediate byelections. Oh, if only..... Winlinuser
  • Score: 6

10:35pm Tue 28 Jan 14

punkrocker says...

the tories promised to keep ema last election then scrapped it. only interested in the south and rich folk. that my friends is reality. at least bankers will get his support to keep their bonuses as we all know the unemployed on 71 quid a week caused the financial crisis.
the tories promised to keep ema last election then scrapped it. only interested in the south and rich folk. that my friends is reality. at least bankers will get his support to keep their bonuses as we all know the unemployed on 71 quid a week caused the financial crisis. punkrocker
  • Score: 4

10:39pm Tue 28 Jan 14

punkrocker says...

wheres lacey he usually rejoices at cuts aimed at the poorest. oh sorry he is busy defending weatherman
wheres lacey he usually rejoices at cuts aimed at the poorest. oh sorry he is busy defending weatherman punkrocker
  • Score: 4

10:50pm Tue 28 Jan 14

Voice-of-reality says...

If one really wanted to have money pumped into colleges then the access to courses delivered neds to be assessed. There is only a certain amount of money available. I am sure that if (and the exact level could be argued) all those who fail to get in excess of 8 A*-C grades at GCSE were told the truth 'you have little ability to pursue any form of academic course' then there would be far more money available to spend on those who would benefit from advanced level study.

Similar cut off grades could also be applied to vocational courses and universities. The courses which only require Ds and Es to achieve enrolment offer little more than a life time of debt and unrealised false dreams to those unfortunate enough to believe that they have the ability to do well on them.

We expect those who follow professional lives in sport to attain at least a minimum standard - its about time the same applied in educational circles.
If one really wanted to have money pumped into colleges then the access to courses delivered neds to be assessed. There is only a certain amount of money available. I am sure that if (and the exact level could be argued) all those who fail to get in excess of 8 A*-C grades at GCSE were told the truth 'you have little ability to pursue any form of academic course' then there would be far more money available to spend on those who would benefit from advanced level study. Similar cut off grades could also be applied to vocational courses and universities. The courses which only require Ds and Es to achieve enrolment offer little more than a life time of debt and unrealised false dreams to those unfortunate enough to believe that they have the ability to do well on them. We expect those who follow professional lives in sport to attain at least a minimum standard - its about time the same applied in educational circles. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: -4

3:29pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Winlinuser says...

@Voice of reality - Totally agree - I have said for years that we MUST start weeding out those without ability rather than impose a system where everyone must pass. Misleading students about their abilities is cruel and is counter-educational.

However, this stupid situation is not down to colleges but to governments. College staff are compelled to follow demands for 95%+ retention and achievement figures, policed by Ofsted. You job is under threat is you fail. Such pressure is also inclined to promote fraudulent "portfolios of evidence" as staff are robbed of any control. Yes, it stinks! Nobody lecturing would argue that change is needed or that mis-governance and management abound.

However, if you believe that private training agents can change this situation; If you think that restricting education and training to those who can pay; If you think that workers should pay for their training rather than the employer; If you think that failure to achieve in school should stay with you for life, then I believe you are very wrong.

I have worked with hundreds of FE students who, only after leaving school, have moved on to achieve significant academic and/or vocational success. This country, people and businesses, will be very much worse off without the FE system.
@Voice of reality - Totally agree - I have said for years that we MUST start weeding out those without ability rather than impose a system where everyone must pass. Misleading students about their abilities is cruel and is counter-educational. However, this stupid situation is not down to colleges but to governments. College staff are compelled to follow demands for 95%+ retention and achievement figures, policed by Ofsted. You job is under threat is you fail. Such pressure is also inclined to promote fraudulent "portfolios of evidence" as staff are robbed of any control. Yes, it stinks! Nobody lecturing would argue that change is needed or that mis-governance and management abound. However, if you believe that private training agents can change this situation; If you think that restricting education and training to those who can pay; If you think that workers should pay for their training rather than the employer; If you think that failure to achieve in school should stay with you for life, then I believe you are very wrong. I have worked with hundreds of FE students who, only after leaving school, have moved on to achieve significant academic and/or vocational success. This country, people and businesses, will be very much worse off without the FE system. Winlinuser
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree