ESFA to launch £80m adult education budget tender

The Department for Education is gearing up to launch a new £80 million tender for the national adult education budget.

It will be a “re-procurement” exercise, and follow the same scope as the controversial AEB tender that caused havoc in 2017 – the contracts for which will expire next year.

A “commercial pipeline” DfE document, published today, states that the tender was supposed to get underway on 1 July, but FE Week understands it is not due to launch until around November.

The contract commencement date is set for 1 August 2021.

The DfE’s commercial pipeline document also reveals that the upcoming tender for 19 to 24 traineeships, due to launch this week, will total £77 million.

The previous AEB procurement was run in 2017 but was plagued with delays and had to be completely redone after the Education and Skills Funding Agency realised it was botched.

And when the final outcomes were released most providers had their funding slashed – including one case of a 97 per cent cut.

Providers teamed up to threaten the ESFA with legal action before the agency found additional funding to top up contracts.

The upcoming AEB tender will just be for the national budget, not for devolved combined authorities which run their own procurements.