The mayor of London plans to top-slice £3 million from the adult education budget to pay for over 50 new bureaucrats from next year, instead of using it for frontline learning.

The money will cover the annual wage costs of a new administration to handle the AEB for the capital when devolution kicks in, including a £140,000-a-year assistant director.

The 53-strong team will form a skills and employment unit to dish out the budget from 2019/20, which will amount to around £311 million per year for London.

However, many of the tasks this unit will carry out will simply duplicate the work that the Education and Skills Funding Agency already does.

The GLA told FE Week that the ESFA has refused to give a “service offer”, which includes procurement, audit, contract management, direct access to data and changes to the Individual learner record systems.

These costs will be top-sliced from the devolved annual budget

London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan (pictured above), is asking the ESFA to reconsider, according to the GLA.

The Department for Education has been asked for comment.

Using AEB funding to pay for extra officials instead of learning will concern many in the sector.

However, a spokesperson for Mr Khan pointed out that “staff costs associated with this are less than one per cent of the budget being devolved to the mayor”.

The GLA is one of eight mayoral combined authorities with deals to take control of AEB spending in their regions from 2019/20.

In a document entitled ‘Proposed changes to the GLA establishment’ and released in March, the GLA explains how it will top-slice the AEB.

“The total annual gross cost of the creations is £3.245 million, for which £3.028 million is attributable to AEB and the balance of £0.217 million relating specifically to the core skills team,” it says.

“Going forward from 2019-20, once the programme has been devolved, these costs will be top-sliced from the devolved annual budget of circa £400 million per year.”

Among the staff will be one assistant director, whose annual pay packet will be £139,000. Four senior managers will be paid around £87,000 a year , while one other will be a senior project manager on £73,000.

The unit will also employ 16 principal policy officers, who will take home around £66,000 each, as well as 12 other principal project officers earning £61,000.

Ten officials will be senior policy and project officers with annual pay packets of £54,000, and eight people will hold support officer roles, paid £40,000.

The last person on the team will be an assistant administrator, who will earn £37,000 a year.

The GLA told FE Week this team will be focussed on implementing the mayor’s skills strategy, which includes a “digital talent programme” to find and develop the next generation of home-grown tech talent, and developing the mayor’s construction academy so Londoners can access jobs in the construction industry.

“The Mayor is determined that all Londoners have the opportunity to fulfil their potential and are able to enjoy the capital’s economic prosperity,” a spokesperson said.

Devolution for the AEB has been on the cards for many years but plans have not gone smoothly.

The mayors from the eight regions with deals in place recently voiced concerns with the government over the impracticality of the process.

The seven other areas of the country to have devolution deals in place are the West Midlands, Liverpool City region, Greater Manchester, the West of England, Tees Valley, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and the Sheffield City region.