EU funding reductions endanger adult learning

the BBC

A social enterprise director expressed concern that adults with learning disabilities might not receive essential job training when the European Social Fund (ESF) grant expires.

According to Step and Stone's founder Jane Kippax, the organization depends on a £20,000 ESF grant each year to teach adults with learning disabilities how to bake artisanal bread.

The Levelling Up Fund, according to the government, may offer grants. .

The social enterprise from Bristol, however, claimed it wouldn't be able to find substitute funding in time.   .

Step and Stone, which was established in Knowle in 2016, has 50 trainees at the moment, 10 of whom have succeeded in securing full-time employment, and five of whom are involved in volunteer work.

One of the many lucrative goods its trainees produce that are bought by delis and restaurants is lavosh flatbread.

Minister for Disabled, Health and Work, Tom Pursglove MP , with Step and Stone founders Jane Kippax and Jane Chong
With Step and Stone co-founders Jane Kippax and Jane Chong, Minister for Disabled People, Health, and Work Tom Pursglove MP has spoken about the funding gap.

A funding shortfall, however, is imminent.

A grant from the European Social Fund that will expire in 2024 will cover ten of the training spots.

There is currently no other British funding source that can consistently close the gap.

When Tom Pursglove MP visited the bakery in December, Mrs. Kippax discussed the potential shortfall with the Minister in charge of Disabled People, Health, and Work.

The minister, she claimed, "has taken that on board and will work to find some answers for us," the BBC reported. Clarification that something will take its place would be beneficial.

"The government offers a wide range of support to help support disabled people into work," said Mr. Pursglove.

For instance, we were able to put a million more disabled people to work, which was one of our goals. Five years earlier than expected, we had that meeting. " .

People working at large kitchen table
Step and Stone says it will have to reduce the number of trainees it has unless alternate funding can be found by the fall.

But we cannot become complacent, he continued.

"We need to be ambitious, and we'll keep looking at support programs like this that are offered by the government as a whole as well as more broadly in terms of placing people in jobs. ".

Since his visit, the BBC has inquired with the Department for Work and Pension about the source of the funding.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund levelling-up fund (UKSPF), which the DWP suggested could help pay for the training, has a $2.16 billion budget.

The DWP stated in a statement that local governments make spending decisions regarding the UKSPF and collaborate with a number of regional partners to create and administer the fund.

It is up to groups like Step and Stone to submit applications to local councils, which receive a portion of the funding. ".

"In addition, we are helping more disabled people find the appropriate type of employment through programs like Access to Work and Disability Confident. ".

Flatbreads on trays
The social enterprise sells many successful products to restaurants and delis, including Lavosh flatbread.

However, co-founder of Step and Stone Jane Chong claimed that there was no distinct procedure for obtaining the funding on time.

The plan was inspired by her 27-year-old son Andrew, who has Down syndrome.

"When you have one child with a special need and another or others who don't, I think you are very aware that the world presents quite differently to your different children," said Mrs. Chong.

"Consequently, we wished for a more compassionate and open-minded world. ".

The social enterprise will have to decrease the number of training spots it provides for young adults if a funding replacement isn't found by autumn.

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