INCREASED fees for some adult learners in Lancashire are set to be cut after the higher fees were said to have led to a near-20 per cent drop in their numbers.

Proposals endorsed by Lancashire County Council will see the charge for its community learning programme drop from £5.80 to £4.75 per hour.

This follows the discovery that steady decreases had seen the number of learners fall from 14,866 in 2010-11 to 12,163 in 2012-13.

County Coun Tony Martin, cabinet member for adult and community services, said: “The community learning programme has two broad categories – a fee-paying public programme and a targeted programme which is free of charge.

“The income from fees helps to offset the costs of the targeted programme, which is free of charge to individuals and groups who are most vulnerable and most at risk of social exclusion.

“In recent years, those fees have gradually increased. However, at a time when many people are struggling financially, increasing fees has led to a decrease in learner numbers on the public programme.

“Reducing the hourly fee is intended to reverse this trend, whilst maintaining the level of fee income overall.”

County education officials had also recorded an overall decrease in enrolments from 22,745 to 18,137 over the same period.

The same proposals confirm that the targeted and family learning courses will remain free of charge and fees for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) will remain at £1 per hour.

Other foundation level accredited learning courses will also stay free, for subjects like English, maths and employability skills.