§ Helen Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions she has had with the Cheshire Learning and Skills Council on how its new funding formula will affect students with special needs at Warrington Collegiate Institute; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Margaret Hodge
[holding answer 16 May 2002]: None. Funding of further education (FE) provision is the responsibility of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC). Funding for learners with learning difficulties and/or disabilities in mainstream FE provision consists of two elements: funding for the basic costs of the course, as for other students; and additional learning support tailored to meet the costs of activities to meet the individual's needs.
The LSC is introducing limited changes to its funding for basic course costs for 2002–03 which include greater emphasis on rewarding retention and achievement. While broadly cost neutral the changes are designed to reward those institutions that raise participation and achievement rates. I believe it is right that funding for retention and achievement for students with special needs in mainstream FE colleges should be on the same basis as for other students. The LSC have safety netting arrangements in place to help those institutions that may see a drop in income solely due to funding methodology changes.
Additional learning support funding arrangements for the 2002–03 academic year remain unchanged from earlier years. However, the LSC is currently consulting on its proposals to revise the present methodology for funding additional learner needs in post-16 education and training. These new arrangements are intended to ensure a coherent approach, based on common principles, to the funding of special needs regardless of age, mode of study or type of programme.