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Adult further education funding in England since 2010

Published Wednesday, March 20, 2019

This House of Commons Library Briefing Paper provides a summary of how funding for adult further education (including apprenticeships) in England has changed since 2010.

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There are two systems of revenue funding for post-16 further education (FE) in England: the 16-19 funding system and the adult education funding system. This briefing provides information on the latter. Information on the former is provided in Library Briefing 7019, 16-19 education funding in England since 2010.

2010-11 to 2015-16

The initial teaching and learning funding allocations for adult further education (FE) and skills in England fell from a 2010‑11 baseline of £3.18 billion to £2.94 billion in 2015‑16, a reduction of 8% in cash terms or 14% in real terms. The allocation for 2015‑16 fell further as a result of the 2015 Summer Budget, which reduced the non-apprenticeship part of the Adult Skills Budget (ASB) by an additional 3.9%.

While funding for community learning and offender learning stayed fairly constant over the period, ASB funding declined by 29% in cash terms between 2010-11 and 2015-16 – this in part connected to the replacement of grant funding with loan funding for some learners from 2013-14 onwards. The minimum annual funding allocated to adult apprenticeships increased by 113% between 2010-11 and 2015-16, meaning that non-apprenticeship funding comprised a smaller proportion of the reduced ASB.

Actual expenditure on adult FE by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) shows a similar pattern, with expenditure on community learning and offender learning staying constant but ASB spending falling by 32% in cash terms between 2010-11 and 2015-16, from £3.63 billion to £2.48 billion. Within the ASB, expenditure on adult apprenticeships increased from £0.45 billion to £0.71 billion over the period (an increase of 58%), while non-apprenticeship ASB spending fell by 54%, from £2.50 billion to £1.14 billion. It should be noted that these figures, and the chart opposite, do not include spending on Advanced Learner Loans. In the 2013-14 academic year, the Student Loans Company paid out £116 million in loans; in 2014-15 it paid out £145 million, and in 2015-16 it paid out £182 million.

2016-17 onwards

Under the Spending Review 2015 settlement the newly created Adult Education Budget (comprising non-apprenticeship ASB plus community learning and discretionary learner support) is set to be held constant in cash terms at £1.5 billion up to 2019-20. Funding for apprenticeships and loans is set to increase by 92% and 140% respectively between the 2015-16 baseline and 2019‑20. From 2017-18 onwards, apprenticeship funding has, in part, been provided via the apprenticeship levy.

The Government is in the process of conducting a review of post-18 education funding, including further education. The review is being supported by an independent panel led by Philip Augar and is expected to conclude in 2019.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7708

Author: David Foster

Topics: Adult education, Local authorities: education, Students

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