ESFA finds additional AEB funding in effort to solve tender chaos

ESFA finds additional AEB funding in effort to solve tender chaos

The ESFA has confirmed it has found additional adult education budget funding and sent out letters to relevant independent training providers with their increased allocations, as revealed by FE Week earlier today.

The letter focuses on non-priority provision and delivery areas, bringing funding for everyone up to the value of 75 per cent of the amount they had last year, and therefore into line with existing providers which did not bid or failed in the tender process.

New contracts for priority delivery will continue with opportunities to bid for growth.

“This letter sets out your modified run-down extension contract value and the arrangements that will apply for the period 1 November 2017 to 31 July 2018,” reads one letter, seen by FE Week.

“We have calculated your nine-month run-down extension by taking 75 per cent of your 2016 to 2017 contract value (£) and subtracting the value (£) of the three-month extension you have already received. We have then worked out your non-priority provision as a proportion (%) of your total AEB delivery. We used your final 2015 to 2016 individualised learner records (R14 ILR) and final funding claim to do this. We have then multiplied your nine-month extension value (£) by the proportion (%) of your non-priority provision.

“We have defined non-priority ‘other’ provision as anything that is not 19- to 24-year-old traineeships, English and maths, skills provision for those who are unemployed and live in one of the priority disadvantaged areas and delivery of technical programmes for adults aged 19-23.”

In response to the letters, which were sent out electronically this afternoon, AELP’s chief executive Mark Dawe said: “We really welcome the fact that the government has recognised the importance of transitioning all providers to enable them to move from non-priority to priority provision. All we been asking for is fairness of treatment. Furthermore we hope that the opportunity to bid for further allocations will allow providers to grow priority provision meeting a significant demand around the country.”

The provider very much at the centre of the AEB tender debacle was Somerset Skills & Learning. The 10,000-student community learning provider had its allocation slashed by 97 per cent – from £3.4 million to just £111,000 – and was on the brink of collapse. But it rallied the support of four local MPs to fight its case for more funding and held emergency meetings with the DfE to reverse the cut.

After receiving today’s letter the provider tweeted: “Great news, we’ve been granted transitional funding to start running courses again. More details to come, thanks for supporting us

It added: “Some funding has been allocated, although not the full amount we bid for. It does allow us to move forward however! Good news!”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “It is vital that we continue to build the skilled workforce that businesses and the country needs to ensure we can compete across the world and adult education is a vital part of this.

“Our priority is always to act in the best interests of learners and that is why we have confirmed additional funds to support providers in delivering quality adult education across the country.”