Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins and Theresa May clash in Parliament

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins and Prime Minister Theresa May have clashed in the House of Commons over a 'crisis' in further education funding.

Thursday, 31st January 2019, 2:55 pm
Updated Thursday, 31st January 2019, 4:08 pm
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins and Prime Minsiter Theresa May exchanged words about further education.
Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins and Prime Minsiter Theresa May exchanged words about further education.

During Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Mr Perkins said Chesterfield College's funding had dropped 30 per cent in real terms since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 - and accused the Government of letting young people down.

Mrs May, however, hit back and said the Labour MP 'could not be more wrong'.

Mr Perkins said: "My son is one of thousands of young people to have their life chances transformed by their studies at Chesterfield College.

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"Its funding, like that of further education colleges across the country, is 30 per cent down in real terms since this Government came to power.

"Further education funding is in crisis.

"Why is the education of young people in further education colleges worth so little to the Government?"

Mrs May responded: "The honourable gentleman could not be more wrong.

"The funding we are putting into further education is providing the best life chances for young people going into further education. It is this Government who are taking steps to ensure that young people can take up the opportunities that are right for them.

"For too long in this country, the assumption has been that the only way to get on in life is to go to university, and other ways, such as apprenticeships and further education colleges, have not been similarly respected.

"It is this Government who are ensuring respect for further education, and for technical education as well."

After Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Perkins said: "Further education is crucial to Britain and the college is crucial to Chesterfield.

"Further education colleges offer an alternative university route to sixth form which suit some young people's learning style. It also offers a second chance to some who don't thrive at school, and with apprenticeships and adult education it can help people at all stages of life.

"The funding cuts are brutal and they are costing jobs and threatening courses - and it's time that Government realised the role that further education plays and supported it properly."

The debate was brought to Parliament following a 70,000-strong petition bemoaning the scale of further education cuts.