POLITICS

Labour's Chuka Umunna Warns Cuts Will Spell 'End Of Further Education As We Know It'

30/06/2015 14:48 BST | Updated 30/06/2015 16:59 BST
Parliament TV

Labour has warned of the "end of further eduction as we know it" as a result of more Government cuts.

Chuka Umunna, Labour's Shadow Business Secretary, cited fears of "insolvency" expressed by the head teacher of the college of Cabinet minister Sajid Javid to seek a guarantee institutes would not be forced to close.

Post-16 eduction leaders have warned the £450 million of savings the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has to find - plus the same cut to the Department for Education budget - will be "destructive".

Mr Javid, the Business Secretary, blamed the cuts on Labour spending in the past, and said there were "tough decisions" to be made.

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Sajid Javid: "The important point is that all colleges have the resources they need to do their jobs. We will not put that at risk."

During Business Questions in the Commons, Mr Umunna said Britain has the worst productivity in the G7, bar Japan, and "proper adult skills provision, not just apprenticeships" plays a "vital role" in addressing that.

He added: "The adult skills budget has been cut by 35% in the past five years. Now the Chancellor tells us that a further £450 million is to be taken out of the Department’s budget, which could lead to the end of further education as we know it."

He added the South Gloucestershire and Stroud College this month confirmed that 70 staff posts are in danger due to the reduction in its adult learning funding, citing the the principal warned the college needs to "reduce our costs in line with the reduction in funding to maintain our solvency".

Mr Umunna said: "Should the alarm bells not be ringing when his own college is citing issues of solvency before we have seen the full scale of what he is going to do to the productive capacity of the economy?"

In response, Mr Javid hit out at the "record budget deficit we inherited from the previous Labour Government".

He added: "The important point is that all colleges have the resources they need to do their jobs. We will not put that at risk, especially as they continue to invest in apprenticeships, which are one of the surest ways to give people the training they want and to ensure they have skills that are wanted in the marketplace."