New Clause 7

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 14th June 2007.

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Photo of Bill Rammell Bill Rammell Minister of State (Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education), Department for Education and Skills 10:15 am, 14th June 2007

I have made this point on numerous occasions. The £40 million refers to both the theme 7 restructuring and the changes included and anticipated within this Bill. If the hon. Gentleman is in any doubt about that, I urge him to talk to the Learning and Skills Council staff, who have gone through a very difficult restructuring process, in which 1,100 posts have been removed from the system. That, plus associated reductions in administration and rationalisation of premises, results in the £40 million savings, so the cumulative administrative savings since 2001 come to £500 million, which rightly has been realigned to support learners and students. We will also continue to expect efficiency gains each year in order to put more money back into front-line provision. The  Government are asking all non-departmental public bodies to reduce their administrative costs by 5 per cent. each year.

All that is in stark contrast to the erroneous picture that the Opposition painted on Second Reading. All of it falls dramatically short of the £1.8 billion that the Conservative party erroneously claimed was the figure for LSC administration and bureaucracy. There was clearly an organised operation on Second Reading. Three or four Conservative MPs cited that figure in, in my view, a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the situation. The actual amount that is being spent on administration and bureaucracy, having been reduced significantly, is £220 million. To exaggerate the sum for administration and bureaucracy ninefold is a bit rich, even by the Opposition’s standards of dodgy accounting.

I understand—I have done some work on this—that the figure that the Conservatives reached was established by including the sums spent in 2005-06 on learner participation, learner support, local intervention and development, capital and other programmes. If the Conservative party is really saying that, for example, education maintenance allowances, which have brought  about an unprecedented step change in participation at the age of 16, amount to bureaucracy and administration, it needs to talk to the young people who, at the age of 16, are receiving such significant support.