Lincolnshire disabled college faces job cuts

A Lincolnshire charity running college courses for students with learning difficulties says 350 staff are at risk because of falling enrolment.

Linkage Community Trust, which has campuses in Louth, Grimsby and Spilsby, said local councils were sending fewer students to its courses.

Student numbers at the Linkage colleges have fallen from 200 students to about 150 in the past year.

A 90-day consultation period has started with college staff.

Lincolnshire County Council said: "Young people continue to be referred to Linkage when they are the most appropriate and local provider that can meet their needs.

"If there is a better way of providing the service, which is close to a young person's home, then we will discuss this option with the young person, teachers, parents or carers and with relevant support agencies."

'One student'

The charity employs 900 staff across its three campuses and other services, but will need to shed 208 full-time posts because of low enrolment.

A spokesman said further education for students with learning disabilities is funded by central government - and that funding has not been cut.

"Lincolnshire County Council, whose area had historically provided over a quarter of students joining the college, supplied only one new student," the spokesman said.

Matthew Orford, director of education at Linkage Community Trust said: "For 36 years Linkage has made a real difference to the lives of young people with learning disabilities.

"We have very high success rates and have supported hundreds of young people to achieve greater independence."

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