The non-levy apprenticeship funding tender timetable has been “amended” by the Department for Education, and the deadline for submissions is now September 8.
In a statement, following the controversial relaunch of the process just over a month ago, the DfE said: “We have been responding to a high volume of queries and to ensure everyone has sufficient time to read these and reflect any responses in their bids, we have amended the dates in the procurement timetable set out at paragraph 8.1, table four of the invitation to tender.”
These deadlines are as follows:
The tender clarification deadline is at noon on September 1.
The deadline for responses to clarifications is at 5pm on September 5.
The submission deadline is at noon on September 8.
The DfE also confirmed that “these amendments apply to all potential providers”.
In April, the first procurement process was paused and then scrapped for the 98 per cent of employers which are not subject to the levy as it was “markedly oversubscribed”.
The DfE announced at the time that the “new procurement bid window will close at the beginning of September 2017”, with new contracts awarded in early December, and delivery from January 1.
The new tender was launched on July 28 by the new skills and apprenticeships minister Anne Milton, leaving hundreds of providers disappointed.
She claimed there were several “critical differences” from the old one, including new tender-value caps and contract-award limits to “ensure greater confidence that awards are set at realistic levels”.
The cap on the old tender for large existing providers was £5 million, but this was removed to make the cap limitless.
“We recognise that we didn’t get the previous procurement exercise for apprenticeship training provision for non-levy-paying employers quite right,” Ms Milton conceded.
“Not only was it hugely oversubscribed, it did not achieve the right balance between stability of provision, promoting competition and offering choice for employers.
“We want the sector and employers to have certainty and clarity.”