Government tight-lipped on long-delayed adult education budget results

The government still won’t say when the results of the first ever procurement process for the adult education budget will be published – after previously claiming it would be revealed after the general election.

FE Week revealed in May that the Education and Skills Funding Agency had emailed providers via FASST, the online services hub for organisations working with agency,  to confirm a “pause” of the process following Theresa May’s call for a snap election.

The Department for Education’s “sourcing team”, who sent the email to providers, said it would update on when results would be published after the general election on June 8.

But, with the time lapse now approaching two weeks after the election, the ESFA is still not saying when it will publish the much anticipated AEB results.

FE Week first asked the agency before midday on June 15 for an expected date of publication, then followed it up with a nunmber of enquiries on Friday and this morning, before a spokesperson finally responded half an hour ago – but only to say that the results would be published in “due course”.

Providers that didn’t have to tender for AEB funding will have already received their allocations, but those relying on the process for their financial support will be frustrated by the news.

Mark Dawe, chief of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, previously called for a long-term pause relating to the AEB procurement on April 25.

He said at the time: “The ESFA have just set a precedent for placing a pause on the non-levy apprenticeship procurement, so why not set aside the AEB invitation to tender for a year and give ITPs an allocation for the year 2017/18 essentially based on what they had before?”

It is thought around 500 training providers will have applied for a share of the AEB, which totals around £1.5 billion.

But only around £250 million of the budget was actually up for grabs through the tendering process, because colleges, local authorities and universities – which contract with the ESFA through a grant funding agreement – were not affected by recent changes and therefore did not have to tender.

The former Skills Funding Agency first wrote to independent training providers last autumn and told them that their current AEB contracts would come to an end in July, rather than having them automatically renewed as before.

FE Week then reported in January that the resulting procurement process for such contracts for ITPs had finally been launched by the SFA.

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