Education Funding Agency to publish 16 to 18 payments

The Education Funding Agency is to start publishing information on the value of providers’ 16 to 18 delivery, FE Week can reveal.

The agency already goes public with annual allocation details, but it doesn’t release information about the value of provision actually delivered.

However, following an FE Week request for figures on the value of delivery under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, the agency said it was planning to release 2012/13 details this year. It was also looking at releasing the information relating to 2011/12.

“The vast majority of institutions funded by the agency, including schools, colleges and academies, are funded on a lagged basis, so the funding allocated in one year relates to the student numbers recruited in earlier years, and the funding allocated and paid is the same,” said an agency spokesperson.

“However, funding for commercial and charitable providers is reconciled against delivery, and payments are adjusted according to rules published annually in the agency funding guidance.

“We have not previously published information on delivery and payments for these providers, but are planning to do so for the first time in relation to 2012/13 once we have final audited figures from all providers, which are returned in the autumn.

“We expect this information for 2012/13 to be published around the end of 2013.

“We will also publish data for commercial and charitable providers for 2011/12 as a historical record, which we are provisionally planning to make available in August 2013.”

It follows an FE Week story this month about the amount of agency funding for independent training providers for which no delivery had taken place. They were overpaid around £20m last year, it was revealed.

Around 10 per cent of the agency’s 2011/12 budget for private sector provision for 16 to 18-year-olds was not returned, even though it wasn’t delivered.

A further 15 per cent — around £25m — was handed back.

An EFA spokesperson said it allowed providers to keep a certain amount of funding for which no provision had been delivered. But, she said, it was not true that it had paid £20m to independent training providers “for nothing”.

“In 2010/11 and 11/12 we applied a 10 per cent margin for some independent providers where they under-delivered to reflect changes to the funding system in those years. This has been reduced to 5 per cent in 2012/13,” she said.

The overpayment figures were not in the public domain — prompting the FoI request — but were seen by FE Week.

They provided a stark contrast to funding for older learners, paid for by the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) and BIS.

The SFA makes the details of its overpayments public, but it pays independent training providers strictly on delivery. Its overpayment of £91m last year therefore ended up largely in the coffers of colleges and local authorities, for example.

Kim Thorneywork, the SFA’s chief executive, said the overpayment — revealed in December — meant some providers’ allocations for 2012/13 would be reduced, and she expected “to deliver a balanced budget for the 2012/13 financial year”.