The Education and Skills Funding Agency has today launched its second Covid-19 provider relief scheme.

FE providers can now bid to receive apprenticeship and adult education budget funding in advance of delivery for the period July to October 2020.

The first supplier relief scheme was run from April to June and resulted in a third (58) of the 165 training providers that applied being rejected.

The ESFA said any provider that bid in the first scheme can apply for support from this second round.

A spokesperson for the agency said: “In offering supplier relief, the aim is to continue to retain capacity within the apprenticeships and adult education sector to deliver the skills needed to support economic recovery post-pandemic.

“As part of that, ESFA also want to support training providers to maintain delivery to and support for existing learners and employers and enable new learners to enrol.”

The ESFA has also opened up another round of supplier relief applications for providers that deliver the European Social Fund (click here details).


Who is eligible?

Eligibility rules for apprenticeship and AEB Covid support have largely stayed the same as the first round.

Providers must hold a direct contract that was procured as a service under Public Contract Regulations 2015, and their 2018/19 qualification achievement rates must be above 40 per cent.

Providers with rates below that threshold can however submit an “exceptional case that they are a critical supplier based on niche provision”.

Those bidding for supplier relief must also have submitted their latest financial accounts to the ESFA where these are due by 19 June 2020, not been judged by Ofsted as making ‘insufficient progress’ as a result of a new provider monitoring visit which resulted in a suspension on new starts, and delivered under the contract prior to April 2020.

Providers must also plan to deliver learning under the contract in July, August, September and October 2020, and demonstrate the “ability to continue to deliver without additional support from November”.

They also must not have furloughed the staff required to deliver the contract, and not received a notice of termination from the ESFA.


What do providers need to prove to be successful in their bid?

The ESFA stressed that providers will need to demonstrate that they have a “need” for the funding requested “in order to maintain capacity within their organisations to support learners and respond to the economic recovery”.

They will also need to “explain how they are going to update and change delivery models to operate without further relief from November 2020”.

The ESFA said training providers receiving support from this scheme “must be prepared” to provide “all evidence of spend for future reconciliation and provide ‘open book’ access to accounting records, upon which their application is based”.

They must also be prepared to “provide forecast financial information with an accompanying commentary to demonstrate their plans for sustainability over the coming year”.



What support will successful applicants receive?

The ESFA will calculate a “funding cap” for each training provider requesting support from the scheme, which will be “applied to the amount requested by the provider”.

“The cap will be based on the proportion of funds you were paid, through each eligible contract for services for the corresponding month in 2019,” the agency explained.

“For example, if you were paid 8 per cent of your allocated AEB funds in July 2019, then your AEB funding cap for July 2020 will be 8 per cent of your current allocation.

“A cap for August, September and October 2020 will be applied using the same method. However existing maximum contract values (MCV) continue to apply and your funding cap cannot exceed 25 per cent of the MCV even where the average earnings exceed this.”

The relief scheme will apply to activity undertaken in July, August, September, and October 2020 and will be paid in the subsequent months.

“Funding through this relief scheme will be paid on top of the regular payment claimed via the ILR,” the ESFA added.

“The total of the two payments will not exceed the provider’s funding cap, if you earn more funds through your ILR claim than your funding cap we will not pay any relief.”

Closing date for applications is midnight July 9. The ESFA will respond to applications by August 6.

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