Application guidance for the new funding pot to support the implementation of area review recommendations has been unveiled today.
It comes just a week after the Treasury refused yet again to tell FE Week how much cash is in the pot – sometimes referred to as a restructuring facility – despite repeated enquiries.
The new guidance, published four months after FE Week first revealed details of the fund, is for general FE colleges and sixth form colleges (SFCs) “impacted by a substantive area review recommendation” and “unable to fund the change themselves”.
The funding is available as a loan “wherever possible”, the guidance said — “with terms which are commercial or as close as possible to commercial for government”.
The report did not include a figure for the size of the fund, or say how much cash colleges and SFCs can ask for.
But it said all colleges would be expected to show that “alternative sources of funding have been considered and are being utilised as far as possible”.
All applications will also need to clearly show how the proposal will “help you move towards financial resilience and higher quality and more responsive provision”.
Unlike the transition grants for consultants, guidance for which was published in April, colleges and SFCs “should usually not submit more than one application” for the facility, the new guidance added.
And if a recommendation involves more than one institution, they should “submit a single, joint application”.
All applications will need to include an implementation plan and a “fully integrated financial model”, alongside a completed application form.
The application should “differentiate between and provide evidence for facts, assumptions and aspirations”, the guidance said.
Applications will also need “a clear, well evidenced and well thought through” financial forecast.
And implementation plans will need to outline “what the changes are and their fit with the area review recommendation” and “what outcomes will be delivered”.
They will also need to include a “long term strategy and business plan” including a curriculum plan that meets the “area’s educational and economic needs as set out in the area review report”.
As previously reported by FE Week, funding is available from the facility to cover any VAT costs resulting from the change in ownership or building due to an area review recommendation.
Colleges and SFCs can apply for this “compensatory payment” as part of their restructuring facility application, or on a separate application form “which will be published in due course” if they are only applying for VAT compensation.
A separate application form for SFCs to apply for funding “for an academisation” will also be published “in due course”, the guidance said.