The Director of Children, Families and Learning submitted a report to determine the fees to be set for adult learners in the 2012/13 academic year.
The report stated that there were currently two fee levels for adult learners in Middlesbrough Community Learning Service:
Full cost fees are £45 for a 10 week (2 hours per week course)
Reduced fee course fees are £7 per course.
Eligibility for employment skills courses was set by the Skills Funding Agency. The eligibility for the leisure courses is at local discretion. The report stated that the existing reduced fee of £7 has been in existence for three years and does not cover the administration cost of a course. Neighbouring provider charge a minimum of £10 for reduced fee learners up to a maximum of 50% of the course cost.
In line with government policy the Community Learning Service had been tasked by the inspection last year and the recent funding changes directed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to recruit new learners and to cease funding repeat learners or Club courses.
The report outlined that historically Middlesbrough has had a very high proportion of learners who repeat their course. The consequence of this is that it is difficult to increase the number of learners onto these courses and those who repeat the course are often not motivated to progress to higher levels of learning. In essence they have been well supported clubs with a committed and regular set of learners.
It was proposed that the Community Learning Service would convert many of the existing courses with repeat learners into full cost Club courses that would not be subsidised by the government. Because these courses would have to be independently financially viable, it was proposed to have no reduced fee rate so that every learner pays the full cost, proposed by £47. Current data suggests that this would impact on 46 individual courses with approximately 500 learners. Currently the percentage of learners receiving financial support for Club type courses is 14%.
It was proposed that Community Learning Service will offer three strands of learning, Employment Skills, Leisure and Full Cost Club Courses with variations on eligibility as follows:
Employment Skiils Courses
Standard skills funding eligibility
Skills funding eligibility plus:
Working tax credit
Pension guarantee credit
BSL with a deaf relative
Council Tax benefit
Full Cost 'Club' Course
No reduce fees
It was proposed to increase the standard fee to £47 and the reduced fee to £10 and the establishment of Clubs for long term courses. This will ensure the continuation of valued courses for learners who repeat them as well as providing opportunities for the service to recruit new learners.
That from September 2012 the standard fee be increased to £47 and the reduced fee to £10, with long term courses being converted into Clubs at standard fee.
The decision was supported by the following reason:
The increase in fees is to maintain service budgets against inflation with respect to rent, salaries, resources and accreditation. The conversion to club courses is a strategy to bring the service in line with current government objectives for leisure learning courses as outlined in the background papers.