AGENDA ITEM NO.4

EDUCATION & CHILDREN
SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
11th MARCH 2015

CARMARTHENSHIRE ADULT & COMMUNITY LEARNING SERVICE

TO UPDATE COMMITTEE MEMBERS REGARDING THE EFFECTS OF WELSH GOVERNMENT FUNDING CUTS TO THE CARMARTHENSHIRE ADULT COMMUNITY LEARNING SERVICE

To consider and comment on the following issues:
RECOMMENDATION
That the Scrutiny Committee:

    1. receives the report regarding the scale of Welsh Government funding cuts faced by the County Council’s adult community learning service;
    2. advises how the local authority’s statutory responsibility to oversee the delivery of this provision can be carried out in the 2015-2016 year and beyond.

REASONS:

To enable Members to exercise their scrutiny role in relation to the delivery of adult learning services as specified in the Education Act 2000.

To be referred to the Executive Board / Council for decision: NO

Executive Board Member Portfolio Holder: Cllr. Keith Davies (Education & Children)

Directorate – Education & Children
Name of Head of Service:
Gareth Morgans

Report Author:
Matt Morden

Designations:
Head of Education Services

Lifelong Learning Networks Manager

Tel Nos. / E Mail Addresses:
01267 246649
EDGMorgans@sirgar.gov.uk

01267 246648
MSMorden@sirgar.gov.uk

EDUCATION AND CHILDREN’S SERVICES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
11.03.2015

CARMARTHENSHIRE ADULT & COMMUNITY LEARNING

TO UPDATE COMMITTEE MEMBERS REGARDING THE EFFECTS OF WELSH GOVERNMENT FUNDING CUTS TO THE CARMARTHENSHIRE ADULT COMMUNITY LEARNING SERVICE

Officers responsible for adult community learning (ACL) in Carmarthenshire have attended the scrutiny committee meetings for the Department for Education and Children since 2005. At these meetings, officers have provided members with regular updates regarding the Welsh Government’s (WG) changes to adult community learning strategy and funding. These updates have included information about how Welsh Government changes have affected the way in which courses are provided for learners in Carmarthenshire.

At the scrutiny committee meeting on 23rd January 2014, members were provided with the full background of the financial challenges faced by the ACL service over the coming years. Members were also provided with four options as to how the Local Authority’s statutory function to oversee this provision could be met in the future. At this meeting, scrutiny committee members unanimously endorsed the option to explore passing the existing funding for ACL courses to Coleg Sir Gār, which would take the lead role for the delivery of this provision in the future.

Officers provided a further update to members at the scrutiny committee meeting on 11th April 2014. This meeting was attended by Barry Liles, Principal and Chief Executive of Coleg Sir Gār. At the meeting, members unanimously agreed to proceed with actions to support the proposed transfer of provision to Coleg Sir Gār. These actions were to:

    ● recommend to the Executive Board that the transfer of direct Adult Community Learning course delivery to Coleg Sir Gār be progressed;
    ● complete a project plan for the transfer of the service in line with the requirements of the Council’s Organisational Change Policy – (by 30th June 2014);
    ● complete an Equalities Impact Assessment for the planned changes (by 31st May 2014);
    ● complete the 3 phases of the restructuring change process (Planning & Preparation, Consultation, Implementation) in the period May 2014-August 2015;
    ● continue to work with town and community councils, community and voluntary sector groups to develop plans for these organisations to take over responsibility for the running of community learning centres;
    ● continue to work with Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire ACL services to develop shared approached to quality and curriculum development (April 2014 on-going);
    ● provide regular update reports to the Education & Children Scrutiny Committee on the proposed changes and their implications including the continuation of the Local Authority role to oversee the provision of ACL courses.

Subsequently, officers have worked with Coleg Sir Gār managers to develop the proposal to transfer ACL provision (courses and related staffing but not buildings run by the service) to the college from September 2015. However, during recent months there have been a number of additional developments that will affect this proposal and the future of the ACL service in Carmarthenshire.

These developments relate to central Welsh Government cuts to budgets that fund the ACL service. They are not related to the current budgetary decisions being made by the Department for Education and Children and the County Council.

The nature of these central Welsh Government grant cuts will mean that:

    The WG direct grant to the ACL service will reduce from £190k (2014/15) to £156k (2015/16);
    The Family Learning Grant (£106k in 2014/15) has been cut altogether for 2015/16;
    There is no probation service funding income (£15k in 2014/15) in 2015/16 and beyond.

These Welsh Government cuts will reduce the income to the service by approximately £155k in the 2015/2016 year. The ACL service is also projecting a budget overspend of approximately £35k for the 2014/2015 year.

Additionally, managers at Coleg Sir Gār were informed in January 2015 that the budget for the college will be cut by up to £1,596,708 (9.7%) for the 2015/16 year. A cut of £824,290 (5.0%) has already been confirmed. Since the Welsh Government has asked all Further Education (FE) colleges in Wales to prioritise funding courses for 16-19 year olds, this cut will affect FE provision for learners over 19 significantly, with the resulting impact on the franchise agreement (£393k in 2014/2015) with the County Council. Managers at Coleg Sir Gār have yet to confirm what the effects of these cuts will be on the possible transfer of ACL provision and/or the current franchise funding agreement.

The combination of existing and likely budget cuts means that Adult Community Learning service will be facing a budget shortfall of between £190k and £548k in the 2015/2016 financial year.

It is also likely that the Welsh Government will cut these grants further in the following financial years. Cuts on this scale will mean that current levels of courses provided for learners, service staffing and operation of buildings cannot be maintained without additional County Council resources being allocated for this work.

The legal context for the delivery of adult community learning in Wales is identified in the Learning & Skills Act 2000. This legislation specifies that “Local Education Authorities (LEA) are [also] responsible for certain categories of further education. LEAs may, in respect of part-time provision for those over compulsory school age and full time education for those over 18, secure provision for their area of appropriate facilities.” (Section 22.)

Consequently, there is no formal legal requirement for the County Council to provide adult community learning courses directly, since the Local Authority may be satisfied that these courses are being offered by other organisations. Currently in Carmarthenshire, Coleg Sir Gār, the voluntary sector (e.g. Workers Educational Association, U3A and other charitable organisations) and private individuals offer courses for adults in community settings in addition to courses provided by the local authority.

Given the scale of the identified budget shortfall for the ACL service in 2015-2016, members are asked to identify how they wish the Council’s responsibilities for the provision of adult community learning to be delivered in the 2015-2016 year and beyond. Should members wish to continue with this provision, additional funding will need to be identified within current County Council budgets.

N.B. Members should note that the details above do not apply directly to Welsh for Adults provision, which will be subject to a national reorganisation by the Welsh Government during the period 2015-2017.

DETAILED REPORT ATTACHED?

NO

IMPLICATIONS

I confirm that other than those implications which have been agreed with the appropriate Directors / Heads of Service and are referred to in detail below, there are no other implications associated with this report :

Signed: ED Gareth Morgans Head of Education Services

Policy, Crime & Disorder and Equalities

Legal

Finance

ICT

Risk Management Issues

Staffing Implications

Physical Assets

YES

NO

YES

YES

YES

YES

YES

1. Policy, Crime & Disorder and Equalities

Adult and community learning does not impact directly on the Crime and Disorder theme, though course provision in local areas is one means to engage with people who are at risk of offending. The service has a long history of work with the probation service. Welsh for Adults, Basic Skills (literacy and numeracy) and ESOL courses help people play their full part in society and integrate into their local communities.

The most recent profile of learners enrolled in courses provided by the adult community learning service indicates that 69% of learners are female, 66% are in the 50+ age category and 94% are not currently employed. Thus changes to this provision will affect these population groups to a greater extent than others. The service currently delivers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses and changes to this provision could affect the opportunities for adults seeking to integrate into local communities. An Equalities Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed to highlight the effects of the transfer of ACL provision to Coleg Sir Gār on particular groups of learners. Should this provision change in others ways, a further EIA will be required to explain how current service users and communities will be affected.

2. Legal

The Learning & Skills Act 2000 specifies “LEAs are [also] responsible for certain categories of further education… LEAs may, in respect of part-time provision for those over compulsory school age and full time education for those over 18, secure provision for their area of appropriate facilities.” (Section 22.)

Thus the direct provision of adult and community learning is not one of the statutory obligations placed on Local Authorities through the Learning & Skills Act 2000. This means that Carmarthenshire County Council has no statutory duty to provide adult community learning courses directly, since this provision could be offered via third party providers already who already offer some of these courses in the local area.

    1. Finance

In the 2014-2015 financial year, the County Council’s adult community learning service (based on October 2014 budget monitoring is projected to:

    ● Receive income of £1,059,678:
    ● Incur expenditure of £1,025,030.

These figures will be subject to final confirmation at the end of the current financial year.
The current sources of income for the service are:

    A direct grant from the Welsh Government Department for Education & Skills (DfES) for ACL delivery;

    A franchise agreement with Coleg Sir Gār (for accredited Basic Skills, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and some adult community learning classes);
    A franchise agreement with Swansea University for Welsh for Adults provision;
    Revenue gained from learner enrolment fees (final amount dependent on learner enrolment to March 31st 2015);
    Rental income gained from community use of buildings - (final amount dependent on current lettings to 31st March 2015);
    Miscellaneous grant funding, revenue and recoverable costs gained by the services (e.g., basic skills delivery for the probation service, Welsh Government family learning grants etc) - £117,984;

The service has been subject to priority based budgeting principles to indentify efficiency savings in line with the requirements of the Welsh local government settlements for the past 10 years.
However, on-going cuts to grant funding, reduced learner enrolments and increasing centre running costs have meant that service income has not covered expenditure in recent years. For the 2014-2015 financial year, this is likely to result in an overspend of approximately £35k.
Given the reduction in Departmental budgets scheduled for the 2015-2016 year, any further subsidy of the ACL service will require other departmental services to be cut to fund the overspend.

    2. ICT

Provision of ICT classes and facilities is a key component of current community learning changes to this will impact upon these courses, notably by the potential to offer these courses in newer settings with up to date technology.

5. Risk Management Issues

Over the past five years, the Welsh Government has changed the emphasis of funding for ACL courses. They also published a strategy for the development of ACL provision in Wales in 2011 which highlighted the need for ACL to focus upon courses for literacy, numeracy, Welsh for Adults and English for Speakers of other languages (ESOL) together with targeting “hard to reach” learners, not currently taking part in education and training.

Should a decision be taken by the County Council to cease delivering adult community learning courses directly, the local authority would retain a role (via the Education and Children’s Services Scrutiny Committee) in ensuring that suitable adult learning provision is available in Carmarthenshire.

6. Physical Assets
The County Council ACL service currently runs 4 community education centres (Carmarthen, Felinfoel, Glanaman and Llandeilo) and 1 basic skills facility (the Cennen Centre, Ammanford). The majority of the courses run by the service take place at these centres. While these facilities are funded from the budget of the Department for Education and Children, they are used by a wide range of community and voluntary sector groups and play an important role in promoting social inclusion.

At most of these centres, community use outweighs the delivery of ACL classes meaning that education funding is subsidising the wider community benefit. Rental income at these centres only covers a small percentage (typically around 15%) of the building running costs. Total lettings income from these centres for the 2014-2015 financial year is projected to be £22,829. The cost for caretaking and cleaning these buildings for the financial year is £72,248. Given the scale of budget reductions detailed elsewhere in this report, it is likely that the ACL Service will be unable to run some or all of these buildings in the 2015-2016 financial year.

Use of these resources is monitored by officers and is subject to regular review, in conjunction with colleagues from Property Services as part of the Asset Management process. There are opportunities for local community groups to take on the management and running of these centres, should the County Council not have a budget to run them. Discussions have taken place with some town and community councils with regard to these organisations taking responsibility for these buildings in the future.

7. Staffing Implications
The ACL service has been restructured twice since 2008 most recently in 2012. This has, resulted in a reduction in the number of officers employed on each occasion. The service currently employs the following staff:
Service Management

    ● Lifelong Learning Networks Manager x1 (0.33 x FTE);
    ● Community Learning Manager x1 (1 x FTE);
    ● Data Officer x1 (1 x FTE);

ACL Service (including Basic Skills and ESOL)

    ● Community Learning Officers x1 (1 x FTE);
    ● Basic Skills/ESOL officers x3 (2.6 x FTE);
    ● Tutor co-ordinators x1 (1 x FTE);
    ● Exams Officer x1 (0.8x FTE);
    ● Admin staff x 5 (3.4 x FTE);
    ● Caretakers/Cleaners x 7 (4.0 x FTE);
    ● Tutors (ACL/ABE/ESOL) x 41 (10.1857 x FTE)

Total number of individuals = 85 - Total FTEs 25.0 (approx)
Any potential change in the responsibility for the delivery of ACL courses will result in the need for redeployment and/or existing staff at being at risk of redundancy.

CONSULTATIONS

I confirm that the appropriate consultations have taken in place and the outcomes are as detailed below

Signed: Gareth Morgans ED Gareth Morgans Head of Education Services

1.Local Member(s)
Meetings have been held with the area Community Education Centre Committees (incorporating local Elected Members) regarding the future challenges facing these centres during the 2014-2015 year. An update meeting will be held with all relevant members in March/April 2015 once the final budget details for the 2015-2016 year become clear.

2.Community / Town Council
Officers have attended relevant Town Council meetings (Carmarthen, Cwmamman) to discuss possible future centre management arrangements:

3.Relevant Partners
Officers work with these partners through the forum of the Carmarthenshire Adult and Community Learning Group, a sub-group of the Carmarthenshire Children and Young People’s Partnership. This group comprises of:

    ● Coleg Sir Gār
    ● Workers Educational Association (WEA)
    ● University of Wales Trinity St David
    ● Swansea University
    ● Aberystwyth University
    ● Careers Wales West
    ● Carmarthenshire Association of Voluntary Services
    ● Llanelli Rural Council
    ● Llanelli Multicultural Network
    ● Carmarthenshire Learning Festival Group

Service officers represent Carmarthenshire in the relevant group meetings for the South West and Mid Wales Regional Learning Partnership.

4.Staff Side Representatives and other Organisations
A staff meeting to explain the current financial situation affecting the ACL service was held at the end of January 2015.

Section 100D Local Government Act, 1972 – Access to Information
List of Background Papers used in the preparation of this report:

Title of Document

File Ref No.

Locations that the papers are available for public inspection

Delivering Community Learning for Wales

n/a

http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/learningproviders/communitylearning/deliveringlearning/?lang=en

Iaith Pawb: A National Action Plan for Bilingual Wales.

n/a

http://new.wales.gov.uk/956559/910682/Iaith_pawb?lang=en