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Outsourcing plans for adult education services CALAT on hold after Croydon Council discovers £500000 budget hole

Plans to outsource Croydon’s under-threat adult education services have been put on hold after council officials realised the move would lead to a more than half a million pound budget shortfall.

In June Croydon Council announced proposals to hand over the running of its community learning and adult education services (CALAT) to private companies from September 2017, in the wake of a planned £600,000 funding cut by the Government’s Skills Funding Agency (SFA).

At the time officials said an external provider “would create stronger continuity and progression in learning pathways,” shoring up the future of a service which provides hundreds of courses to thousands of students at centres in Croydon town centre, Thornton Heath, New Addington and Coulsdon.

But at cabinet meeting on Monday, councillors will be told that “financial analysis has identified that an estimated £500,000 would be lost by outsourcing, as a result of the loss of CALAT’s contribution to council overheads which would create a short-term budget gap for the council”.

RELATED: Croydon Council to outsource adult education services CALAT in face of Government cuts

There would also be a £120,000 cost of making the change during the financial year, the council’s autumn financial review revealed.

When the “staggering” £600,000 reduction to SFA funding was first announced in October last year, it was feared Croydon Council would lose the money from its 2016/2017 budget, threatening the immediate future of the CALAT service.

However, funding for the current financial year has since been confirmed, and councillors on Monday are expected to approve recommendations to keep the service in-house until at least September 2018.

Although council officials now predict CALAT will receive “a growth in income over at least the next two years,” they remain uncertain about the implications of Government’s upcoming review of further education, due to be published by the end of the year.

The financial review report states: “Given the above it is recommended that the council continues to run the service in-house until at least September 2018, enabling the decision on a new delivery model for adult education to be informed by the outcomes of the FE and Adult education reviews.

RELATED: Croydon’s adult learning services hit by ‘staggering’ £600,000 budget cut

“Meanwhile work will continue to mitigate the financial impact to the council of CALAT.”

Alisa Flemming, the council’s cabinet member for children, young people and learning, could not be reached for comment.

In June she said the council planned to press ahead with outsourcing CALAT services “rather than waiting for the outcome of strategic area reviews of further education and the adult community learning which are currently taking place is to allow us to continue to influence the shape of adult learning in the borough”.

She added: “The difficulties that we have faced already this year is that we never know on a year-by-year basis in terms funding so this allows us to stay ahead of the curve and ensure the future provision of the service.”

Got a story? Call the newsdesk on 020 8722 6388 or email daniel.omahony@newsquest.co.uk

Article source: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk/NEWS/14787017.Outsourcing_plans_for_adult_education_services_on_hold_after_council_discovers___500_000_budget_hole/

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