College cuts could pull rug from under Bristol’s young people

FE 18 Nov 2015

Karin Smyth spoke in the Commons about the challenges facing south Bristol’s further education sector (18 November)

Proposed cuts to college funding represent the latest in a triple funding cut threat to residents of south Bristol, says the area’s MP.

With the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) due to be presented on 25 November, new analysis from the House of Commons Library shows the budget for sixth form and further education colleges could fall by at least £1.6 billion under Conservative spending plans.

Karin Smyth said: “In a constantly-changing economy and competitive job market it’s more important than ever that south Bristol’s young people are equipped with the skills they will need in the years ahead. The role of the city’s 16-19 education sector is vital to a successful future for us all.

“All the international evidence shows that the most productive economies invest in their further education. Yet these figures suggest the Government is determined to decimate ours.

“Looming education cuts come hot on the heels of local fears that many GP surgeries will lose funding they previously received due to local deprivation factors, and worries that the CSR could lead to reductions in local policing.

“I’ve written to the Prime Minister and to the Skills Minister, Nick Boles, urging their support for Bristol’s further education sector in the face of possible funding cuts.

“The timing of this threat is key. The West of England Partnership has just placed a bid to the government for greater local control over a number of areas, including taking on responsibility for Skills. If the bid were to succeed, but funding cuts go ahead, the rug could be pulled from beneath our young people.”

South Bristol Skills Academy

South Bristol Skills Academy

South Bristol Skills Academy

Karin Smyth highlighted the potential of the £30 million South Bristol Skills Academy at Hengrove, which opened in 2010 to offer vocational training and specialised courses that are not available elsewhere in south Bristol.

“Like the neighbouring South Bristol Community NHS Hospital, the Skills Academy was built to help realise an exciting vision for local residents to have on their doorsteps some of the services they need to thrive.

“The government is currently carrying out a series of Area reviews of further education provision nationwide, with a West of England review scheduled for January 2016 and there are fears that this could lead to a further reduction in courses available for Bristol citizens.

“The Skills Academy offers young people from south Bristol a valuable choice of courses close to home. Without it, they would have to travel much further afield to access training and education.

“The threat to the vision is becoming very real, and it is understandably worrying local people.”