DfE reveals colleges allocated £470m in financial support

Around £470 million has now been allocated by the government to cover the costs of implementing post-area review changes for colleges.

The figure, which is 65 per cent of the £726 million on offer, was revealed in the latest Education and Skills Funding Agency progress report on the restructuring facility, which closed in September.

It said up to £435 million has been allocated for general FE colleges, including partnerships with universities, while up to £25 million has gone towards mergers between colleges and sixth form colleges, and up to £10 million for conversion of sixth form colleges to academy status.

Case summaries of providers that formally agreed restructuring facility terms by July 31, 2018 have also been published (click here to read the details). It doesn’t, however, reveal the values for individual applications.

Today’s announcement said the ESFA received 76 applications for the restructuring facility. Of these, 58 cases have been assessed and approved and five remain in the assessment and approval processes.

“Of the 58 applications assessed and approved, 32 include funding to support restructuring,” it said.

“Of the remaining 26, 17 include VAT funding only to meet VAT liabilities arising from the change of ownership of buildings and nine relate to conversions to academy trusts that did not require restructuring facility support.”

The restructuring facility, administered by the ESFA’s transaction unit, was designed to help colleges implement area review changes but has increasingly being used to support colleges in tough financial situations.

The application deadline was September 28, 2018 – although colleges will have until March to spend the cash.

In an updated guidance document for applying to the restructuring facility, the ESFA said in September that in order to ensure the “objectives of the programme can be best realised by March 2019 it is important that we prioritise funding to support those colleges and proposals that provide the greatest contribution to the restructuring facility objectives”.

“We are unlikely to be able to support all requests for funding,” it added.

FE Week has previously reported on a number of colleges in dire financial straits that have received multi million-pound handouts from the fund.

These include Hull College, which reportedly received £54 million from the fund in 2018, and Lambeth College, which applied for over £25 million to pay off its exceptional financial support and bank loans, according to its 2016/17 accounts.