MP ‘appalled’ at investment levels in adult education

Stephen Lloyd, Eastbourne's MP, in the House of Commons
Stephen Lloyd, Eastbourne's MP, in the House of Commons

Eastbourne’s MP raised concerns with a ‘nosedive’ in the number of older part-time students in the House of Commons earlier this week.

Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd asked ministers what steps they were taking to help older adults from low-income backgrounds access further education.

Education minister Anne Milton described how for older adults from low-income backgrounds they provided full funding for English and maths, courses for unemployed people, support through community learning, and advanced learner loans for those in specific financial hardship.

Mr Lloyd replied: “Since 2015, the number of part-time students aged over 30 has dropped by 10 per cent in the first year alone.

“Funding for the adult education sector will remain frozen for five years after 2020.

“That real-terms cut has led to a drop-off of almost 16,000 in the number of people aged 30 and over being able to afford access to further education.

“Will the Secretary of State confirm what actions her Department is taking to halt this nosedive in the number of older part-time students seeking to improve their education opportunities, or have she and the Government already written those people off?”

Ms Milton responded: “There is absolutely no question of this Government writing anybody off.

“In fact, social mobility is at the heart of everything that is driving our policy.

“I would point out other areas where the Government are putting in substantial amounts of money.

“The Government are spending up to £5 million on the returner programmes to enable people to retrain and upskill, particularly in social work and our allied health professions.

“This is important for people who have taken a career break because of caring responsibilities.

“We set an ambition in our document “Building on the Industrial Strategy” to make sure that we have a proactive approach for people to learn throughout their lives.”

Afterwards on Facebook Mr Lloyd said: “Adult education has always been one of my priorities.

“Be it apprenticeships or further education, they’ve been crucial in opening opportunities to tens of thousands of people across the U.K. and a good few hundreds in Eastbourne as well.

“So I’ve been appalled in the lack of investment this government has been putting in to the sector.

“But now I am back as your MP I’m able to go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and hold them directly to account.”