Jim Fitzpatrick: ESOL cuts will bite hard

By Jon Massey on April 14, 2011 10:32 AM |

By Jim Fitzpatrick

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A recent visit to the Bromley-by-Bow Centre outlined how serious some of the cuts are on the least visible members of society. English language lessons (ESOL) for those not actively seeking work will no longer be funded by the Tory-led Government. This may not sound unreasonable unless, like me, you had met the 100 students at the centre who will lose out.

Eight-five percent are not on Jobseekers Allowance and will not have English lessons. Ninety-five percent are women, mostly of Bangladeshi origin. They cannot seek work due to a lack of English language skills and childcare responsibilities.

However, they do want to learn English so they can communicate with teachers or staff at Sure Start centres; be able to explain to their doctors signs and symptoms if ill; and integrate into our society, which is what I thought social cohesion was all about.

The ESOL cuts will bite hard for these women but their voices are unlikely to be heard by Vince Cable.

The Government is showing no signs of reviewing the ESOL cuts - unlike Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), where there was another welcome u-turn.

Most pupils locally will continue to get something to help them stay on at school - but it's not clear whether the overall package will be of benefit to Tower Hamlets.

- Jim Fitzpatrick is MP for Poplar and Limehouse

2 Comments

Jay said:

Why should the taxpayer fund this? Immigrants and that includes spouses should have a reasonable grasp of English before they are allowed in.
Supporters of mass immigration always spout that immigration is a economical boon, it's not if you count the hidden cost of language training, family, child support etc etc. We cannot afford this anymore.

Sel said:

Jay, how does one determine 'a reasonable grasp of english'? Some kind of examination? That's going to cost the taxpayer.

These people are here already and if they want to learn the language then they deserve all the support they can get - especially considering the fact that they want to work.

It's not just a matter of economics either - the only way to appreciate the richness of british culture is to be able to speak the language! (I know I know, it's very much stating the obvious!)

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