AEB policy set to change with free courses for anyone earning less than £15,726.50


Tens of thousands of adults on low wages are set to benefit from a new rule which will see their training fully funded from next year, FE Week understands.

Up until now, adults have had to have been on benefits to receive full funding for education courses.

But a radical adult education budget rule-change is expected to come into play in 2018/19 which will open the door to a huge number of other adults on low wages.

It will apply to those who earn less than the Social Mobility Commission’s low-pay threshold.

“This code is used to identify individuals who earn less than the Social Mobility Commission’s low-pay threshold of £15,736.50 annual gross salary, and providers use their discretion to fully fund using their adult education budget allocation,” says an Individualised Learner Record rule change.

This will apply from August 2018 to July 2019.

An ESFA update appeared to confirm the change this afternoon.

“This week we will publish version one of the adult education budget funding rules 2018 to 2019,” it said. “The main change from the draft version, published March 2018, will be to AEB learners on low wages. The rules apply to all providers of education and training who receive AEB funding through the ESFA.”

The news will be huge for learners on English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) courses, who typically take low-paid jobs while they upskill themselves.

Under current rules, learners can be fully funded if they “receive jobseeker’s allowance, including those receiving national insurance credits only, receive employment and support allowance and are in the work-related activity group”.

They can also be fully funded if they receive universal credit or other state benefits, and earn “either less than 16 times the appropriate age-related rate of the national minimum wage / national living wage a week, or £338 a month (individual claims) or £541 a month (household claims)”.

The cash to fund the free courses is likely to not be new money, but will come from huge underpsends of the AEB.

As revealed by FE Week last month, hundreds of colleges and training providers between them failed to deliver £73 million of allocated funding last year.

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  1. This is great news for learners.

    I just wish the providers could have known about this policy change earlier. The code dealing with this initiative is in the ILR FAM code list published in August 2017 but it is not detailed in the Draft Funding Guidance published March 2018.

    Stuff like this is important for enrolment forms and prospectuses, needs communicating to prospective learners and staff need to know how it is to be evidenced. Any provider who has already done their forms and prospectus will be stating that they need to be on benefits to qualify for full-funding.

  2. This will have an affect on private training providers who do not have an AEBbudget as it will affect the number of students now applying to do courses through the 19+ loan.
    If we had been made aware that this was going to happen we could have applied for the AEB budget which we didn’t as we would only have been able to use it for 19+ traineeships and in this age category we have very little learners
    They now have to open the application for this budget again to providers who did not apply for it in the first instance as they were unaware that this new policy was coming into effect.

  3. Yes, great for the learners, but I hope the ESFA has considered what it could mean for participation numbers.

    A provider to co-funded learners gets AEB income and fee income – if those learners are now fully funded, the AEB allocation will get used up more quickly. If the allocation doesn’t get increased, then the provider simply loses the fee income and delivers to fewer learners, so participation numbers drop.

    The current method of applying for growth in year doesn’t really feel nimble enough to cope with this.