The first ever procurement process for adult education budget contracts has finally been launched by the Skills Funding Agency.
FE Week reported two weeks ago that the procurement process had been given the ministerial green light, from secretary of state for education, Justine Greening, and was expected to begin within days.
The Skills Funding Agency first wrote to training providers in October and told them that their current AEB contracts would come to an end this July, rather than having them automatically renewed as before.
Invitation to tender for education and training services – Adult Education Budget 2017 to 2018
Now letters have been sent out and a new document, called Invitation to tender for education and training services – Adult Education Budget 2017 to 2018, has revealed the funding and timetable arrangements.
FE Week also, for example, today spotted an invitation to tender for education and training services – Adult Education Budget 2017 to 2018, for the North East, North West, Yorkshire and The Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, East of England, London, South East, South West on the SFA’s Contract Finder site.
The key section in the new guide document on funding states: “The minimum funding that is available is £110 million, for the funding year 2017 to 2018. The funding year covers the 12-month delivery period from August 1, 2017, to July 31, 2018.”
It adds: “Please note that your response to this invitation to tender must be submitted through the SFA’s e-tendering portal before 5pm on February 27.”
Notification of tender results will be announced on May 19, while applicants must be ready to deliver on the contract start date (1 August 2017).
Anyone already pre-qualified for AEB funding can apply via SFA tendering site – and a section from the letter sent out to providers explained what happens if they don’t apply.
It said: “In our October letter, we referred to the part of the Public Contract Regulations 2015 that allows us to directly award contracts up to a predetermined threshold level of £589,148 for one year.
“If you are unsuccessful in securing a new contract through the procurement, or you choose not to tender, we will offer you a new contract up to the value of your current 2016 to 2017 AEB allocation or this threshold value, whichever is the lower.”
The new guide document stated that applicants must be able to “demonstrate their readiness to deliver the service immediately when the contract starts”.
“Delivery must not be delayed in any way, such as by not having the appropriate staff, processes, premises or relationships that need to be established,” the document added.
Providers must also “have a track record in delivering high quality education and skills provision for those targeted by the AEB”.
It also explained: “An applicant must only contact the SFA by using the online message board attached to this specific ITT on the e-tendering portal.
“This is to ensure that the SFA can maintain the integrity and robustness of the tendering process, and guarantee that answers provided to questions are consistent.”