Colleges facing adult education budget clawback have four weeks to make their case to keep the unused cash.

Six months after announcing the controversial 90 per cent threshold for 2020/21 adult education budget reconciliation, the Education and Skills Funding Agency are from today open to receive business cases from affected colleges.

To be eligible, colleges must have delivered less than 90 per cent of their adult education budget allocation for 2020/21 and must explain why meeting the threshold was not possible in their local area.

Documents published by the Education and Skills Funding Agency today confirm that “a small number of cases” have been identified through year-end claims submissions where the planned clawback of funding could destabilise institutions.

Business cases allow affected colleges to claim that “eligible costs” should be retained, rather than clawed back. To be successful, colleges must provide detailed explanations against a series of questions, laid out in the guidance published today, about; specific local circumstances, plans that were in place to mitigate against risks to under-delivery, and the financial impact of the clawback on the institution.

For a number of months, the ESFA resisted pressure from colleges calling for local circumstances to be taken into account. In March, ESFA told the sector that there “will not be a business case process” which AoC’s deputy chief executive Julian Gravatt described at the time as “self-defeating”.

One of the colleges hardest hit by the decision to set the tolerance threshold at 90 per cent was Leicester College. Speaking to FE Week, Leicester College’s principal, Verity Hancock, said she “was pleased to finally make our Leicester-specific case” and that “the reference to looking at previous AEB delivery performance was welcome”.

Business cases must be submitted by 23.59 on Thursday 7 October, with outcomes to colleges expected by Monday 15 November.

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