Jim Fitzpatrick: ESOL cuts will bite hard
By Jim Fitzpatrick
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