ESFA to run special AEB allocations review for colleges

Reduced funding given to providers who underperformed the most during Covid

Reduced funding given to providers who underperformed the most during Covid

14 Jun 2023, 16:52

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Colleges facing cuts to their national adult education budget allocations due to underdelivery during Covid will have their funding reviewed, the government has announced

The special review of ESFA-funded AEB allocations for 2023/24 is planned for colleges and other grant-funded providers that have experienced a significant boost in delivery this year following drops in adult learner numbers over the previous two years.

Recruitment of adult learners took a fall in 2020 and 2021 amid the pandemic and associated lockdowns, forcing many colleges and other providers to underperform against their annual grant funding allocations.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency released individual AEB budgets for 2023/24 at the end of March, but multiple colleges found their allocations have been reduced compared to recent years.

The funding taken away from those colleges who suffered with low recruitment in the Covid years, delivering less than 90 per cent of their allocations, was used to increase the budgets for colleges who had over-delivered.

But there are concerns that the 2023/24 allocations will not be sufficient as recruitment returns to pre-pandemic levels.

The ESFA has now promised to review those most affected this November.

In an update to the sector today, the agency said: “We delivered ESFA adult education budget funding allocations for academic year 2023/24 at the end of March. Some providers received an allocation lower than their 2022/23 funding allocation. This is because their delivery was below 90 per cent of their allocation over the past two funding years.

“A small number of providers with lower funding allocations will have significantly increased their delivery in academic year 2022/23. This could mean their delivery in 2022/23 exceeds their allocation for academic year 2023/24.

“We will operate a review process for these providers in November 2023.”

This process will only apply to those providers who have a “significantly reduced allocation in academic year 2023/24” and can “evidence significant increased delivery in their R14 data return for academic year 2022/23”.

The ESFA said it will publish the criteria for this process and further information in the next update of the AEB funding rules “later in June”.

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