To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the expected average change in adult education course fees over the next two years is.
Further education colleges and local authorities will retain considerable discretion in the setting of fees for adults in 2005/06. There will be no change in the fee concessions arrangements in further education that help unemployed people, those on income based benefits, and retired people and working families on low incomes, to access learning. Learners will also continue to have access to literacy, numeracy and English language courses free of charge. We will continue to make a very significant contribution to further and adult education although our assumption will remain that adults should continue to contribute to the costs of their learning unless otherwise eligible for fee concessions. Changes to the Learning and Skills Council's further education funding methodology fee assumption in 2005/06 mean that the learner contribution to the cost of their learning will increase from 25 per cent. to 27.5 per cent. of the basic course cost. Decisions about funding arrangements for 2006/07 have yet to be made.