Council calls on residents to help shape adult learning in Merton

Merton’s cabinet agreed a way forward this week on how the council could continue to deliver adult learning in Merton well into the future.

In the face of having to make £32m in savings over the next four years, members considered a number of options at the meeting on 10 November, and indicated that, on balance, their preferred option is for the council to become a commissioner of adult education services. At the meeting, members ruled out not delivering an adult education service in Merton. They also announced a public consultation on all the options to give residents and tutors the opportunity to provide their views and suggestions as to what a financially sustainable adult learning service in Merton could look like in the future, before making a final decision at council in January.

The consultation survey will be available from 17 November until 4 January 2015.

The council recognises the value and importance of adult learning in the borough and is committed to continuing adult learning in Merton. In its commitment to maintaining adult learning, the council is determined to develop an adult learning programme that will be more resilient to financial decisions that are made which are outside of its control.

If there are any changes to the delivery of the service, the council will work to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for learners. Any such changes would be implemented from September 2015, the start of a fresh academic year, although those changes would be dependent on the outcome of the public consultation.

Merton Council cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton said: “We know how important adult learning is to many in the community. But these are financially challenging times, as the government continues its funding cuts to local authorities. So, as we have to save £32m over the next four years, it is vital that we look at different ways of providing our services to give tax payers value for money and to ensure we can continue to offer adult learning in Merton. We’re calling on people to get involved in the consultation so they can help us shape a new service for Merton. We are having to make tough choices, but we will work to ensure services continue to function and the most vulnerable in our community take less of a share of the cuts.”

The cabinet paper lists all the options the council will be consulting on.