To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the contribution of third sector organisations towards developing the skill set of specific groups, with particular reference to those with learning disabilities.
Third sector organisations have a vital role to play in reaching specific user groups including those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, providing opportunities to learn and train that might not otherwise exist, and supporting the Government's twin aims of economic success and social inclusion for all.
In 2006-07 the Government invested around £177 million in 2006-07 in post-16 further education and skills provision delivered by 543 voluntary organisations directly contracted with the Learning and Skills Council.
The Working Together Advisory Group (launched in December 2006) has brought together experts from across the third sector to advise the LSC on how it can work most effectively with third sector providers. The substantial progress that has been made was celebrated at a ministerial reception in January 2008.
The LSC is continuing to work with the Advisory Group to make sure the third sector's contribution to targets and priorities is recognised and understood, and that third sector organisations are treated equitably with all other providers of services.