Labour’s campaign to save adult education in Somerset has won a significant victory. The government has found millions of pounds more for SS&L (Somerset Skills and Learning). Classes due to start this term will now go ahead.
SS&L is to receive about £2.5 million. That’s 75 per cent of the money it says it needs and a massive improvement on the £110,000 it was told it would be getting. SS&L said: “Some funding has been allocated, although not the full amount we bid for. It does allow us to move forward however. Good news!”
Labour at the forefront of campaigning
Somerset Labour has been at the forefront of the campaign to save the adult classes. Members demonstrated, collected support through a petition and bombarded MPs and the government with demands for fairer treatment. Labour says this is a crisis that should never have happened – caused by Conservative policies of outsourcing and penny-pinching.
The Labour leader on Somerset County Council, Leigh Redman, said: “Labour members were among the first to express concern over the massive cut in funding. We applied pressure at many levels. This U-turn shows how right we are that the south west is being overlooked and that we need fairer funding for the west country. Labour pressure gets action. Well done all involved!”
West Somerset Labour chair Maureen Smith said: “Somerset Skills and Learning provide an essential service to residents of all ages. In an area deemed to be lowest for aspiration and social mobility in the UK, education classes and the contact they provide are the means by which horizons are widened, careers advanced and personal achievement fulfilled. If communities are to survive the challenges facing them, life-long learning is non-negotiable. The Labour Party offers hope for the future while the government’s cynical attempt to remove this service from our community was destructive and very short sighted.”
While the immediate crisis is over for people booked on courses this term, Labour will be watching future developments carefully, to try to ensure SS&L has all the money it needs. Labour says education is a right for all.