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David Willetts idenitifies the constituencies where Labour is "playing politics" with education

WILLETTS DAVID NEW David Willetts merits a mention today in ConHome's rolling blog of the party's best summer media hits for the story in the Daily Telegraph about how the Government is "playing politics" with education over the locations of further education colleges which are being given money for building projects.

As the paper reports:

More than 140 college building projects had to be put on hold after the Government's skills quango approved schemes costing £2.7 billion more than it could afford. Last month a committee of MPs found that the quango, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), had been "reckless" and was guilty of a "very serious failure" of management over the programme.

Following a review, 13 of the building projects have now been given the go-ahead. They will cost £714 million, of which £544 million will be funded by taxpayers. Yet while about 40 per cent of the frozen projects were in Conservative and Liberal Democrat seats, all 13 of those approved are in Labour areas.

It was Mr Willetts who picked up on the fact that all the projects given the green light are in Labour constituencies, as the below table shows (click to enlarge).Picture 2

And click here to download the full colour-coded spreadsheet of all the colleges which were seeking funding for building projects, identifiying its local MP.

The Telegraph report records the party's reaction to the discovery:

The Conservatives said that it was “inconceivable” that the 13 colleges were the only necessary projects, suggesting ministers may have influenced their selection. A Tory source said: “It looks very much like the Govenment is playing politics with the further education crisis.”

David Willetts, the shadow universities and skills secretary, said: "It is inconceivable that the only college building projects which are necessary with an election due next year are the ones that happen to be in Labour areas.

Jonathan Isaby


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