Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Post-16 funding: lean times ahead

Calculator and pen

The chancellor's 2009 budget on 22 April was generally good news for post-16 education, with additional funding to plug the gap in the 16-19 settlement and for the FE capital programme. However it also included efficiency savings which makes the picture less optimistic.

ASCL has heard that the additional funding in the budget was by no means a given, and that the many letters from members to their MPs and the DCSF, as well as ASCL's quick and unequivocal response, helped to produce this outcome. It is good to know that ministers and civil servants do at times listen to reason.

For FE capital projects, the funding is essentially 1.2 billion spread over the next four years. Existing commitments will need to be funded from this money so in reality there is about 835 million available to allocate.

The sting in the tail of the 2009 budget is the determination to make a 1 per cent efficiency saving across the whole service from 2010-11. At a rough estimate this is a national saving of about 650 million across education.

Local authorities no doubt will be faced with difficult decisions in regards to closure or federation of small schools, out of authority special needs provision and reducing bureaucracy.

Those establishments with high unit costs will most likely need to take action to reduce these. Where these actions are not taken there will be knock-on implications for other more cost-effective units to take on reductions. There are similar and very tricky implications for the commissioning of post-16 provision and cost-effective delivery.

The DCSF centrally will also be looking to reduce its costs as part of these efficiency savings. Regardless of which party is in government, the years ahead will inevitably be much leaner in terms of funding.

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