More than 1,000 apprenticeship providers that only train levy-paying employers will not be eligible for supplier relief support from the Department for Education, minister Gillian Keegan has said.
In a letter to MPs dated 17 April, seen by FE Week, she confirmed the DfE will be introducing targeted financial relief measures “for those providers that need it”, but only where they “hold direct contracts with the Education and Skills Funding Agency”.
This includes adult education and non-levy apprenticeships, but not levy contracts held between providers and employers.
“This does not apply in relation to apprenticeships funded from employer digital accounts where the contractual relationship is between the employer and the provider,” Keegan wrote.
FE Week analysis shows there are 1,624 main and employer providers on the register of apprenticeship training providers currently, of which 593 have non-levy allocations this year amounting to £690 million.
That means there are 1,031 providers that only have access to levy funding, and are therefore not eligible for the supplier relief.
Keegan told MPs that the extra targeted support, being offered due to the coronavirus crisis, is to “enable high-quality providers to remain active where that is still possible and safe”.
She will set out further detail on these measures and the criteria for accessing the financial relief this week.
“In doing so we will ensure that this support is targeted at those providers who need it, with proven track records for delivering quality training, and that it takes account of any wider support providers have accessed from HM Treasury or elsewhere,” Keegan said.
Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Mark Dawe said that in the absence of published criteria so far, “we are concerned that the proposed ‘targeted support’ will involve some form of arbitrary selection of providers that may not be fair or justifiable”.
“The letter refers to enabling ‘high quality providers’ remaining active as a result of the promised support but how will the DfE define ‘high quality’?” he added.
“Full transparency is required.”