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Becta scrapped in efficiency drive

School technology agency Becta is to close, the government has announced.
In a statement outlining £6.2 billion of cuts to take place in the current financial year, the Treasury said that the "closing the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA) and other savings in Department for Education quangos" would save £80 million.
Overall Department for Education budget for 2010-11 has been cut by £670 million. The budget for the business department, which is responsible for universities, is to fall by £836 million - the biggest cut of any department.
David Laws, chief secretary to the Treasury, said that, "There will be cuts in schemes which we consider to have low value for money – including in “Train to Gain”."
But Chancellor George Osborne said that he would schools, SureStar Cetnres and 16-19 education spending would be protected from the cuts.
"Schools will have to become more efficient, like everyone else,” he said. “But their savings will be reinvested into the frontline this year.”
These budgets are ring-fenced for the current year only.
The government announced a total of £6.2 billion of cuts, of which £500 million would be re-invested in other areas. This includes £50 million of investment in further education colleges, which with leverage could provide up to £150 million for new capital investment. 
It also includes £150 million of funding to create 50,000 extra apprenticeships.
Laws said that the government would also offer funding for an additional 10,000 university places, in addition to those allocated in the December 2009 grant letter. But he added: "Good value for money bids have not been received for the full 20,000 additional places initially envisaged, so we have made a saving here."
In a joint statement, Graham Badman and Stephen Crowne, the chair and chief executive of Becta, said that they were "very disappointed" at the government’s decision. 
"Our procurement arrangements save the schools and colleges many times more than Becta costs to run," they said. "Our top priorities now are to make sure we have an orderly and fair process for staff, and that as far as possible schools, colleges and children continue to benefit from the savings and support that Becta has provided. 
“We will be talking to Government Departments and our other stakeholders including the industry about this.”
 The announcement contained no information on the future of Building Schools for the Future.

Posted on: 24/05/2010

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