Trade unions have criticised the government’s refusal to back down on slashing support to the Union Learning Fund (ULF) and argued there were “blatantly partisan reasons” that the union-brokered training scheme was being wound down.
The FBU has argued that the Tories are too partisan on the issue and “see any programme linked to unions as another enemy in their ideological battle” after ministers stood by plans to axe the ULF in a parliamentary debate on Wednesday.
The TUC suggested that the government’s ongoing refusal to continue support for the scheme, which contributes more to the Treasury each year than it takes out, was “bizarre” and like “taking your star player off the field on a big match day”.
The parliamentary debate on Wednesday followed controversial comments on the ULF by Gavin Williamson. The Education Secretary declared that he would not apologise for cutting funding to a scheme that “channelled money into the TUC”.
The ULF was set up in 1998 to offer increased access to learning and training in workplaces in an agreement brokered by trade unions. Last year, it supported 200,000 learners – both union members and non-members.