Supplier relief: Liverpool reveals Covid-19 provider support

Training providers in Liverpool will continue to receive adult education payments to “provide stability and help to protect the sector during Coronavirus crisis”.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority (LCRCA) told FE Week today it has guaranteed funding until at least the end of June, and it is “assuming” this will later be extended to July to round-off the academic year.

It comes after FE Week revealed details of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Greater London Authority (GLA) support for providers with AEB funding.

All three announcements are responses to the cabinet office guidance on “supplier relief due to Covid-19”.

Nationally, the Department for Education has said they will support colleges that are ‘grant funded’ but has yet to say if or how they will financially support private providers with AEB contracts.

Allocation figures for 2019/20 published by the funding agency show they currently contract with around 230 AEB procured providers to the tune of over £80 million, with a further £8.5 million for procured 19 to 24 traineeships.

LCRCA took control of an annual £50.35 million budget to deliver adult education in September 2019, and 19 private providers shared a pot of around £15 million that went out to tender.

A spokesperson for the LCRCA said, “desperate” as they are “to get money into the sector to make sure there is a sector to come back to after the current crisis”, they will look to pay providers up until the end of the academic year in July.

“Our assumption is everyone else in the country will be looking to extend the period to the end of the academic year.

“We are looking at how we can do that, including talking with central government to make sure what is permitted.”

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “By supporting our adult education budget providers at this difficult time we will enable them to support their existing learners as well as the learners of the future.”

The government devolved adult education budgets to seven mayoral combined authorities last year, including the GLA, WMCA, LCRCA, Tees Valley, the West of England Combined Authority, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

FE Week has approached each of them to find out what arrangements they have made to fund AEB providers through the Covid-19 outbreak.

Mayor of the WMCA, Andy Street, has written for FE Week to explain why they have been quick to act on cabinet office supplier support guidance for adult education budget funded training providers.

He said the move “shows the importance for us of maintaining a strong and responsive provider base”. You can read his full article here.