Another batch of apprenticeship standards up for funding band reviews

A second batch of apprenticeship standards will have their funding bands put up for review from tomorrow.

The Institute for Apprenticeships informed trailblazer groups of the plan on Friday, but it is not known at this stage how many standards will be included.

It follows the launch of the institute’s first funding band review in May where 31 apprenticeships, which included many of the most popular, were revised at the request of the Department for Education.

The process has so far proved controversial, with many employer groups opposing large cuts that would render the apprenticeships “financially non-viable”, while the institute claims to have only recommended changes where “there is evidence that justifies a change”.

In October the final bands for 12 of the standards in this review were signed off. Of these, seven had their funding cut, two saw an increase and three standards remained the same.

However, a decision has not yet been made about the fate of three of the most popular management standards after the employer group behind them launched an appeal against proposed cuts.

The level five operations/departmental manager standard, which made up two thirds of all level three standards last year, was set to drop from £9,000 to £7,000, while the level three team leader/supervisor standard, which accounted for a fifth of all level three starts, faced a cut from £5,000 to £4,500. The level six chartered manager degree apprenticeship could also see its funding cap cut from £27,000 to £22,000.

The outcome of the appeal is still pending.

Changes for the remaining standards in the review are expected to be published before the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the Institute for Apprenticeships said: “Our focus is to provide high-quality apprenticeships that are appropriately funded. We are already working with employers to ensure funding for each apprenticeship is appropriate, consistent and represent value-for-money.

“Details of any further reviews will be published shortly.”

Both reviews come at a time when the IfA is warning of imminent apprenticeship over-spend.

Rate reviews got underway after the institute moved to having 30 funding bands – the maximum rate paid for from the levy – to choose from, up from the previous 15.

The new structure gives the institute more choice regarding the rate it applies to each standard.

Under the 15 structure, if the institute wanted to reduce a £9,000 band it had to drop it to £6,000, for example. But for starts from August it will have the option of setting this to either £8,000 or £7,000.

Similarly, standards on £27,000 can now drop to £26,000 or £25,000 instead of falling all the way to the previous £24,000.

The DfE announced in February that it would review the funding-band structure, because employers did not “feel able” to negotiate with providers on price.

The IfA is currently recruiting a new deputy director of funding, who is likely to lead on rate reviews, to replace Jayne McCann who left around October this year. The salary for the role was advertised at £80,000 a year.