SFA Hub suffers yet another breakdown as data return deadline looms

Providers faced the latest Hub breakdown this week as management information system staff tried to submit their data before the first individualised learner record (ILR) deadline of 2015.

They have until 6pm tomorrow (Wednesday) to submit data for the ILR R05 (fifth return of the academic year) period, but experienced difficulties using the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) data collection system on Monday (January 5).

An SFA spokesperson said there had been a number of issues, but that these had been dealt with by the end of the day.

However, complaints about the breakdown were posted on the SFA’s Feconnect forum and one disgruntled user called for the deadline of the ILR R05, which opened on December 16, to be extended to compensate.

A spokesperson for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said: “It may have been down for only a short time, but as we’ve previously stated, independent providers, mindful of their cash flow considerations, need to have confidence that the Hub is functioning properly, especially now that the old system has been phased out.

“When there are problems, providers should not be penalised as a result — in terms of late payments [to providers, following delays with uploading ILRs caused by issues with the hub]. The SFA has offered AELP a reassurance that this won’t occur.”

The SFA initially kept the old online data collection (OLDC) system running alongside the Hub, encouraging providers to submit returns through both systems even when the Hub should have been able to calculate provider payments from July. However, the OLDC was shut down at the end of October meaning providers could from then on only use the Hub.

An SFA spokesperson declined to comment on whether the R05 deadline would be extended. However, she said: “The hub is fully available. There were some issues yesterday but these were fixed late yesterday afternoon.”

As reported by FE Week, the SFA previously acknowledged problems in August for the ILR R12 and also in September when the Hub broke down on the deadline day for R13. The SFA also admitted to having technical problems with the Hub before providers had to submit data for R14 in October.

The Association of Colleges declined to comment.