Don’t lose English language learning funds

04 November 2015

The London Assembly today called for the funding of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) to be protected.

Assembly Members agreed a motion calling on the Mayor to lobby relevant Ministers and for the GLA Economics Team, based at City Hall, to analyse the costs and benefits of ESOL courses for London’s economy.

Andrew Dismore AM, who proposed the motion said:

“The Government is putting non-English speakers in an impossible situation. On the one hand you’ve got the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) insisting they need to learn English in order to receive benefits, on the other you’ve got the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) cutting all funding for English classes for speakers of other languages.

We should be actively encouraging people to learn English and not putting barriers in their way. The Government have got this entirely wrong. It’s time they reversed their cuts to English teaching or urgently find an alternative source of funding.”

The full text of the Motion is:

This Assembly expresses its concern over the decision of the Government abruptly to end ESOL funding for mandated DWP referred FE students.

The Assembly believes that it does not represent joined-up Government for one department, the DWP, to mandate people to go on ESOL courses or lose their benefit on the one hand; and on the other for another department, BIS, to entirely cut the funding for such mandated, work tailored courses.

The Mayor has previously insisted that “everybody in London, everybody who comes to work in our economy, should be able to speak English.”[2} However, given this latest barrier being placed in the way of those seeking to acquire English language skills, this Assembly is sceptical about the Government’s commitment to ensuring that all those seeking employment and greater integration into their communities are able to do so, especially in the context of other Government cuts to the Adult Skills Budget, which restrict ESOL courses so that refugees, asylum seekers, and other migrants who need to learn English find it ever-harder to access appropriate language classes.

The Assembly therefore calls on the Mayor to:

  • Lobby the Business, Education, and Work and Pensions Ministers to seek an alternative to the ESOL funding cuts.
  • To commission a study from GLA Economics looking at the costs and benefits to the London regional economy of government funding for ESOL courses.


Notes to editors

  1. The motion was agreed by 12 votes for, to 0 against.
  2. Nicholas Cecil, Boris Johnson: Everybody in London should be able to speak English, Evening Standard, 06.01.15.
  3. The full webcast will be available shortly.
  4. Andrew Dismore AM who proposed the motion is available for interviews. Please see contact details below. 
  5. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.