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Plans To Raise Adult Education Fees In North Yorkshire

Plans To Raise Adult Education Fees In North Yorkshire

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Stuart Minting at 8:14am 17th June 2020. (Updated at 8:18am 17th June 2020)

A local authority has revealed proposals for an above-inflation rise in fees for its community-based and outreach learning service, which is designed to help people progress towards formal learning or employment and improve health and well-being.

The proposed move was unveiled as the Office for National Statistics revealed In North Yorkshire had 16,020 unemployment benefit claimants, up from 6,325 before lockdown.

A meeting of senior North Yorkshire County Council officers and leading Tory councillors next week will consider a recommendation to increase the Community Learning fees for the 2020/21 academic year from £4 to £4.50 an hour – a rise of 12.5 per cent.

Its Community Learning programme aims to promote learning and social development work with individuals and groups in their communities using a range of formal and informal methods. The programme develops skills, confidence, motivation and resilience of adults of different ages and backgrounds.

People who meet the Government’s priorities as a ‘targeted’ learner are undertake their classes or sessions at no cost to themselves, but those who don’t fall within the targeted categories are expected to pay half the fees for their subject.

An officers’ report to the meeting states:

“Our learning offer has become much more focussed on those who are most disadvantaged.

Provision has been developed to support people who are furthest from the labour market to engage or re-engage with learning to develop their confidence, work skills or poor mental health with a view to them progressing.”

The report states the adult education budget is experiencing inflation of 2.5 per cent between 2019-20 and 2020-21, so the proposal corresponds to that pressure and that the Community Learning fee had not been raised since 2014-2015.

It adds while Newcastle City Council charges just £3.50 per hour for Community Learning, City of York Council charges up to £9.50 an hour for some courses.

The authority’s North Yorkshire Independents group leader Councillor Stuart Parsons said the proposed rise was “exorbitant” and came at a time when the authority should be giving more support to those who have suffered unemployment.

While the change would only generate an extra £1,000 for the council, Cllr Parsons said people such as those made redundant during lockdown would struggle to pay the additional cost.

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