- Posted by: Valerie Vaz MP
- Category: News
On Friday 4 December 2015 I visited Walsall Adult and Community College’s (WACC) Whitehall Centre to discuss the withdrawal of English Language Tuition for jobseekers whose first language is not English.
The Skills Funding Agency announced in July that funding for English Language for jobseekers whose first language is not English had been withdrawn with immediate effect. WACC will lose £380,000 from its budget as a result of the decision. I wrote to the Skills Funding Agency on 30 July 2015 asking for this short-sighted decision to be reviewed but I am yet to receive a response. I also raised the matter in a question to the Leader of the House on 17 September 2015 and wrote to the Skills Minister on 23 November 2015.
ESOL is delivered by WACC at Whitehall Junior School and WACC’s Centre at Weston Street within walking distance of the heart of the BAME community in Palfrey, which is particularly important for women. I wanted to see the impact the withdrawal of the funding has had by speaking to students and staff. WACC is an excellent college which was rated as Outstanding by Ofsted in 2012/13.
It is difficult to see how jobseekers in my constituency whose first language is not English are going to be able to find employment without the English Language tuition provided by WACC through the ESOL Plus Mandation. WACC has a proud history of serving its community but this decision has the potential to limit its offer and impact.
The rate of Jobseekers’ Allowance Claimants in Walsall South is currently 4.1%, well above the national rate of 2.5%. The 2011 Census found that there are 2,575 households where no residents have English as a main language. This represents 6.88% of households and is well above the national average of 4.28%. Many of my constituents will now not benefit from WACC’s English Language tuition.
On the day this cut was announced, the Prime Minister announced a review to look at issues including how people learn English to improve social cohesion. The Government is undermining its own strategy with this short-sighted decision. It is right to expect people to try to integrate into society, to find work and to learn English, but we must also ensure people have the support they need to do so. The manner in which this funding has been withdrawn has been a shambles.
Further information on WACC is available here: http://www.wacc.ac.uk