Mr Peter Lilley MP: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps he is taking to support the Skills Funding Agency in prioritising adult basic skills training in English and Mathematics.
Nick Boles: The provision of training in English and Maths for all adults remains a priority for this Government. Literacy and numeracy are essential for success in work and everyday life, which is why we want to give all adults the opportunity to gain these necessary skills. Through a statutory entitlement, we fully fund all adults to achieve their first English and maths GCSE as well as any other qualifications which will help them find and sustain employment. This enables the Skills Funding Agency to continue to prioritise English and maths training for all adults. The total funding for education, training and retraining in English and Maths in 2012/13 was £345,200,000. We supported around 500,000 learners in English and Maths in 2012/13. We have set a clear expectation that having a good level of English and Maths should be the norm. Learners who did not achieve a Level 2 in English and Maths by the age of 16 are required to continue to study those subjects post-16 and we have increased the level we expect people to study, in apprenticeships and in traineeships. We are improving English and maths qualifications to ensure they are relevant and robust. We have reformed English and maths GCSEs and we plan to reform Functional Skills to make them more relevant and recognisable qualifications. We have invested over £30m to ensure that the Further Education workforce has the skills it needs to teach these subjects to a high level.