Hundreds of funding rates ‘realigned’ upwards

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) has realigned the funding rates used in the Employer Responsive (ER) Other funding stream, matching the funding rates currently paid for Adult Learner Responsive (ALR) delivery.

More than 750 learning aims have been changed in-year, significantly increasing the amount of funding which providers will receive for delivering qualifications.

The changes, which are effective immediately, will also back pay providers for the previous nine months in the 2011/12 academic year.

A spreadsheet published by the SFA shows that the funding attributed to each qualification have all risen, with some, such as the Diploma in Roof Slating and Tiling, increasing by as much as 781 per cent.

The SFA has not revealed the overall cost of the change, but told FE Week: “We have modelled the impact of these changes and this was taken to the Funding External Technical Advisory Group.”

Many private training providers used to be only funded on the basis they would be delivering qualifications in the workplace.

The training was thought to take more teaching time than if it was delivered in a classroom, and was therefore funded at a lower rate.

However, the introduction of the single Adult Skills Budget (ASB) has enabled providers to deliver classroom provision, creating an anomaly in funding rates.

By upping the rate where the differences are marked, the SFA appear to be equalising rates fairly and encouraging a broader range of qualification delivery.”

The SFA website reads: “The consequence of this has been to highlight differences between the funding rates in Adult Learner Responsive (ALR) and Employer Responsive (ER) Other provision, due to the different drivers used to set rates historically.

“This will not be an issue in the longer term.

“Under our testing of a new streamlined and simplified funding methodology, to be introduced from 2013/14, the aim is that there is a single funding rate for every learning aim regardless of the mode of delivery.”

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) has welcomed the change in ER Other funding rates, as well as the SFA’s plans to equalise the funding of all stand-alone workplace and classroom based qualifications in 2013/14.

Paul Warner, director of employment and skills for the AELP, told FE Week: “The good news about the ER alignment is that it aligns the variances where the variances are most marked, as opposed to aligning merely the most popular qualifications.

“By upping the rate where the differences are marked, the SFA appear to be equalising rates fairly and encouraging a broader range of qualification delivery.”

He added: “We don’t see why any provider should lose from this if they are performing well. However, as the funding for alignment will come from claw back money, we hope that this move will not adversely impact on the ability of good providers to grow under the new system.”

Training providers which will benefit from the changes include Building Crafts College, who expect to receive at least an extra £100,000 throughout 2011/12.

Philip Wildman, director of corporate affairs for Building Crafts College, told FE Week: “Do we welcome it? Absolutely. These increases have actually, from our perspective, restored the values available to us under the previous regime.”