Education minister announces two renewal grants, but projects must be complete by September 2011

Further education colleges have been told by the government they can bid for a share of £50m of funding - but only if they can complete building projects by September 2011.

The move, which will help some of those colleges hit by the £5bn Learning and Skills Council debacle last year, follows an announcement by the government in May that £50m would be allocated to restart projects.

However, colleges will only be able to claim a total of £1m each - meaning they will have to attract private finance to build anything other than minor projects.

The government cash should help boost the chances of some colleges to attract private money, but is a far cry from the sums which were promised before the LSC programme was put on hold last April.

The government has also stipulated that colleges that have received more than £5m of funding from the Learning and Skills Council (now the Skills Funding Agency) in the past will not be eligible for the funds.

The money will come from two sources - a £30m renewal grant, under which about 150 colleges will receive about £225,000 each, and a £20m enhanced renewal grant funding.

Skills Funding Agency chief executive Geoff Russell said: “We will focus on ensuring that the funding is allocated fairly across the sector so that it has the greatest possible impact on learners, employers and local communities.”