THE head of Bournemouth & Poole College says "disproportionate cuts" to the further education budget have "seen teaching hours cut to the bone."

College principal Dianne Grannell made her comments after a number of Dorset MPs joined those calling for additional funding for further education, in order to ensure Britain has the right skills to compete commercially post-Brexit.

Mid-Dorset & North Poole MP Michael Tomlinson, Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns, Poole MP Sir Robert Syms, and South Dorset MP Richard Drax, have signed a letter –alongside MPs from across the country – addressed to Chancellor Philip Hammond.

This letter, following from the announcement of the 2019 Spending Review, calls for further education funding to be increased.

The Dorset MPs say that, while government policy has protected incomes of schools and university, further education colleges including Bournemouth & Poole College have not received the same protection despite increasing costs.

Ms Grannell said: "I am grateful to our local MPs Michael, Robert and Conor for raising this with the Chancellor.

"The disproportionate cuts to the FE budget in recent years have seen teaching hours cut to the bone, spending slashed on vital equipment and resources for training students, and difficulties in attracting and retaining staff in key areas such as engineering and mathematics.

"Because colleges are rooted in their local communities, this is impacting on the availability of the technical skills crucial for the local economy and on social mobility, as opportunities for learning are reduced."

Mr Tomlinson, who is also chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment, said: "Our local colleges do an excellent job and are a great place for young people in Dorset and across the conurbation to receive further training and routes into employment.”

The letter to the Chancellor highlights the benefits further education, and argues it is essential in order to close the UK's productivity gap and ensure students and employers have the right skills to compete successfully post-Brexit.

Sir Robert said: "It is clear that the FE sector has lost out in recent years and if we are to train more employable people, this needs to be addressed.”

Meanwhile, Mr Burns added: "I am delighted to support this cross party effort. Having recently discussed the funding position with the principal of Bournemouth & Poole College it is time for the Chancellor to act.

"We rely of FE colleges to equip young people with the skills business needs.

"They deserve more support."