[UPDATE: A day after this article was published the ESFA said the outcomes will now be communicated on Monday 28 June.]


The outcomes of the national adult education budget tender have been delayed, the Education and Skills Funding Agency has announced.

In a message to bidders this afternoon, the agency said the results of the £73 million procurement will be issued “very shortly” but not today as planned.

The agency had told FE Week earlier this week they were “on track” to announce the winners this week. Today’s message provides no reason for the delay.

It said: “We previously communicated that providers would be notified on the outcome of their bids on or around 24 June 2021 via the e-Procurement portal Jaggaer.

“We wish to update you that award decision notices will not be issued on 24 June, but will follow very shortly.”

Bids for a slice of the funding initially up for grabs in 2021/22 opened in February and closed in March.

The ESFA had originally planned to launch the tender in July 2020 but it faced a number of setbacks. It is a “re-procurement” exercise, and follows roughly the same scope as the controversial AEB tender that caused havoc in 2017 – the contracts for which expire this year.

The procurement includes caps depending on the type of provider applying for the funding to “mitigate significant oversubscription and speculative bidding”. A minimum contract value has been set at £150,000 and a maximum of £3 million.

Priority courses for this tender includes the new first full level 3 qualification offer for those aged 24 and over as per the prime minister’s lifetime skills guarantee, as well as sector-based work academy programmes (SWAPs) – both of which were key features in the chancellor’s Plan for Jobs.

For “new” providers, they will have bids capped at £1 million, subcontractors will be capped at £2 million, and “existing” providers will be capped at £3 million.

The total AEB procurement could potentially reach £157 million if extensions are granted in future years, but these are not guaranteed.

The service start date is set for 1 August 2021.

This tender is just for the national budget, not for devolved combined authorities which run their own procurements.

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