Government cuts threaten marine safety

Government-inspired cuts in funding for adult education evening classes will hit Britain’s marine safety record and lead to more deaths and injuries afloat, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) believes.

 RYA Training Manager, James Stevens, reports a 30% drop in the number of adults attending RYA navigation courses last winter (approximately 8,000 people).

 The fall confirms the impact of cuts imposed by the Learning and Skills Council, the body set up by the Government to oversee further education funding.  The Council, which employs over 1,000 staff and has an administrative budget of £246m, has switched funding away from adult education in favour of courses for school leavers.  As a result, many further education colleges have been forced to drop their adult courses or raise fees sharply.

 RYA theory courses, essential to support practical training and experience afloat, are among the casualties.  As a result, the number of recreational boaters putting to sea without training is bound to rise.  The outcome could be a marked increase in the number of incidents afloat, including the prospect of death and serious injuries.