§ Mr. Drew
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will make a statement on the implications for FE colleges of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. 
§ John Healey
The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 exempted educational institutions from its provisions. The DDA was amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 to include all FE sector colleges within its provisions.
The Government intend to implement the new duties in three stages:From 1 September 2002 it will be unlawful for FE colleges to discriminate against disabled students by treating them less favourably than others. In addition, FE colleges will have a duty to provide reasonable adjustments to provision where disabled students might otherwise be substantially disadvantaged.From 1 September 2003 FE colleges will have a duty to make adjustments involving the provision of auxiliary aids and services.From 1 September 2005 FE colleges will have a duty to make adjustments to physical features of premises where these put disabled students at a substantial disadvantage.
Colleges will be supported in implementing the new duties by additional funding, guidance and support made available through the Disability Rights Commission, the Learning and Skills Council, and the Department for Education and Skills. £66 million has been allocated over the years 2002–04.
§ John Healey
Funding for large further education capital projects is provided by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and it is a matter for the LSC what percentage of the cost of a project has to be found by the college itself.
The percentage varies according to the circumstances and type of application which the college makes to the LSC and in some instances colleges are not required to use any of their own resources.
§ John Healey
The Department is committed to reducing the burdens faced by the FE sector. In consultation with the Department for Education and Skills, the Learning and Skills Council is reviewing the audit burden on FE colleges and the LSC is drawing up measures to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy. John Harwood, Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council, recently announced the setting up of a task force headed by Sir George Sweeney, Principal of Knowsley college, to carry out a national inquiry into bureaucracy in colleges. However, while looking to reduce the burden on FE sector, it is vital to ensure that the interests of learners and of taxpayers in the FE budget, worth more than £4 billion, are protected and that proper and effective systems audit and control are in place. In addition, the Department is currently working to reduce the number of funding lines for FE sector for next year, including a 135W radical simplification of the Standards Fund. This will enable the LSC to simplify its own approach to funding colleges.