Refugee Council response to ESOL funding cuts - Refugee Council
October 18, 2006

Refugee Council response to ESOL funding cuts

In response to the announcement today by the Learning and Skills Council will no longer fund basic ESOL (English as a Second Language) classes for asylum seekers and others, Anna Reisenberger, acting Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:

“In light of the current debate around integration, and in particular the Prime Minister’s comments yesterday about the importance of learning English, it seems utterly contradictory to cut funding for English classes.

“The new proposals mean that, among other restrictions, asylum seekers no longer have access to basic English language lessons. Yet asylum seekers are dispersed around the country to live as part of British communities. How is it going to be possible to promote social inclusion, which the Learning and Skills Council states is a priority, when people are unable to talk to each other, and newly arrived asylum seekers find it a struggle just to go into local shops and buy a pint of milk?

“In the longer term, stopping people from being able to learn English, or take up a range of courses, will harm the economy, and make it even more difficult for refugees to find work once they have been given leave to stay in the UK.

“The government’s own strategy for integration makes clear that learning English is essential to avoid people being marginalised. The longer people are here without access to English classes, the more fragmented communities will become. We urge the government to think again about these cuts for the good of all of us.”