Greater London Authority to launch adult education budget tender next week

The Greater London Authority is set to become the first devolved area to launch a tender for its adult education budget later next week.

Contracts worth around £130 million will be up for grabs from October 12, according to a prior information notice published by the GLA last week.

“It is intended that successful providers will enter into individual contracts to deliver a range of education and training services to both in-work and out of work London residents aged 19 or above, to help them gain qualifications, progress into further education and ultimately access and sustain employment,” the notice said.

The contracts will be split into two lots: adult education provision to out-of-work Londoners, which is expected to “constitute approximately 75 per cent of the total procurement value”, and adult education provision for in-work Londoners, which will be worth around 25 per cent of the total.

For each of the two lots, successful providers will be “expected to offer education and training services to equip Londoners with the skills and knowledge they need to gain qualifications, progress into further education” and either access work, or “achieve career progression”.

Providers can bid for one or both lots, with contracts to be awarded in April ahead of delivery beginning August 1 next year.

The GLA is one of seven areas that will gain control of its AEB from 2019/20, through devolution deals.

Its total devolved AEB budget is around £311 million per year, of which only the share available to independent training providers will go out to tender.

The remainder will be awarded in the form of grants to colleges and other institutions that currently receive adult education funding via a grant from the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

They will “receive a similar allocation for London residents to their allocation from the ESFA in 2017-18, based on the ability to spend their allocation in previous years”, according to the GLA’s draft Skills for Londoners Framework, published in July.

Earlier this year, the GLA revealed that it planned to move away from paying providers to deliver qualifications, to paying for wider outcomes such as progression into work.

City Hall won’t “rush” to introduce an outcomes-based funding model, however, and will only do so once “there is confidence that there is sufficient data to allow robust payment models to be developed”, according to the draft framework.

It is expecting providers to collect destinations data “more completely”, and is considering introducing an “outcomes development fund” to provide extra resources for providers to help them develop new data collection systems.

FE Week reported last month that unlimited management fees are set to end under the GLA’s plans for devolution.

It will set a 20 per cent limit on subcontracting fees, according to a briefing document published ahead of a meeting about the AEB.

FE Week revealed earlier this year that the GLA is having to recruit a huge team of new bureaucrats to hand out the budget to London’s training providers from 2019, with most of their wages paid every year by topslicing £3 million from the AEB.

The team is currently 72-strong, but this may need to increase to avoid the risk that the number of contracts and grants to be dished out will be “greater than can be reasonably managed by the current team”, according to briefing documents published last month.