HC Deb 19 December 1989 vol 164 cc221-2W
Mr. Vaz

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what current national spending and monitoring of success levels have been achieved in relation to adult basic education programmes over the last 10 years, by year; to increase funding and provision in this area; what plans he has; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson

Local education authorities are mainly responsible for providing basic literacy and numeracy tuition for adults. Central Government support is provided to the adult literacy and basic skills unit (ALBSU) which is funded by the Department of Education and Science and the Welsh Office to act as the central focus for adult literacy and related basic skills in England and Wales. Grants to ALBSU during the past 10 years are as follows:

1980–81 495,000
1981–82 1,000,065
1982–83 1,406,652
1983–84 1,513,000
1984–85 1,500,000
1985–86 1,723,000
1986–87 2,170,000
1987–88 2,248,500
1988–89 2,596,000
1989–90 2,889,300

Local education authorities and voluntary organisations report that the provision of adult basic skills tuition has increased over the past 10 years. In November 1988, the latest year for which figures are available, they reported that 110,626 adults were receiving tuition. HMI monitor the quality of provision as part of their regular inspection programmes.

My right hon. Friend is not yet in the position to announce what funds will be made available to ALBSU in the future. The Department will continue to work closely with ALBSU to increase the opportunities for adults to improve their basic skills, through initiatives such as the provision of open learning centres in inner-city areas, open learning centres supported through the ESG programme and the development of workplace tuition. The Department will also continue to co-operate with ALBSU, the BBC and the Training Agency in the basic skills accreditation initiative.