Sunday, 4 October 2015

What is the difference between housing benefit and maintenance loans for 18 to 21 year olds?


by Mark Corney

The majority Conservative Government remains intent on removing the automatic entitlement to housing benefit for unemployed 18 to 21 year olds. The stated rationale for this policy is ‘to ensure young people in the benefit system face the same choices as young people who work and who may not be able to afford to leave home.’

18 to 21 year olds in employment are paid a wage. Unemployed 18 to 21 year olds are eligible for Jobseekers’ Allowance or Universal Credit worth £57.90 per week or £3,010.80 per year.

In August 2014, 96,000 young people aged 18 to 21 were claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance although only 30% of claims last longer than six months. The annual cost to the Treasury is around £0.55bn.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Has the participation age been cracked?


by Mark Corney

From this month, the participation age will be raised to 18.

Young people aged 17 at 31st August  must remain in education and training until their 18th birthday or achievement of a Level 3 qualification, whichever is the sooner.

The categories meeting the duty to participate are full-time education, jobs with apprenticeships, jobs and volunteering of 20 hours or more per week with recognised training of at least 280 hours per year, and traineeships.   

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The case for Adult Skills

by Tricia Hartley

Tony Blair is on record as saying that a UK Prime Minister could easily declare war on another country completely unnoticed – as long as he or she did so in a speech entitled ‘Meeting the Skills Challenge’. 
Our laughter at the low profile of the skills agenda is starting to sound a little hollow now, though, isn’t it, when cuts to the Adult Skills Budget in England before the Election threaten at least a quarter of all learning and training provision for over 19s outside apprenticeships, and the rhetoric of austerity suggests that even more salami slicing may now be in store?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

FE Loans: Going Away? On Hold? Or Just Biding Their Time?

by Mike Cooper

24+ Advanced Learning (‘FE’) Loans have been around for several years; they approach their third annual start. Last summer, BIS proposed (amongst other things) to expand their scope ‘downwards’, in age and levels.

After long silence, the government response has come. Several proposals were resolved (e.g. removing the cap on the numbers of concurrent Loans, and transferring Higher Nationals to BIS/SFA funding and thus bringing those into scope – the first got a ‘yes’, and the second got a ‘no’), but the ‘downwards expansion’ decision is delayed until the autumn’s planned Comprehensive Spending Review, to align with a major review of Adult Education.

Not long before the response was published, a Campaign for Learning seminar explored the proposals; some wider mysteries were considered, too. In fact, those matters may well be rather bigger, wider and more significant.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Rethinking mandatory employer cash contributions to 19-21 Apprenticeships


by Mark Corney

We are now less than a year before the next general election, and a consensus seems to have emerged between the main political parties over 'earn or learn' for 18-21 year olds.

The pool of 18-21 year olds who are unemployed and not in full time education can be reduced by increasing the number in jobs, expanding the number in full-time education and insisting that the rest participate in full-time training in return for a youth allowance.

Increasing the number of 18-21 year olds in employment includes expanding jobs with apprenticeships, the example par excellence of combining 'earning and learning'.

A conflict is arising, however, between 18-21 earn or learn policy and 19-21 apprenticeship funding policy.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Why not Sharia loans for all?

by Mick Fletcher

In April BIS issued a consultation on proposals to develop a sharia compliant finance product that might serve as an alternative to higher education loans1 – see .  The aim of the proposals is to overcome the potential difficulties in accessing higher education that might be experienced by those whose faith is offended by payment of interest or usury.  Although this may seem a somewhat specialised, even abstruse consultation the content is actually of much wider interest.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Solving the Post-16 GCSE Resit Conundrum


by Mark Corney

Around 37% of 16 year olds in England do not achieve at least a grade 'C' GCSE in mathematics and 34% do not so in English. Everyone agrees that 16 year olds without a Level 2 in English or mathematics should continue to study these subjects until they reach this minimum standard until they are 18. The disagreement is over the type of qualification young people must take to achieve a Level 2 in these key subjects, namely GCSEs or functional literacy and numeracy level 2 programmes.