There are 83 winners sharing £62.6 million from the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s adult education budget tender, FE Week can reveal.

Results for the delayed procurement were finally communicated to training providers last night.

They will now be observing a voluntary ten-day standstill period until July 26 before commencing contracts on August 1.

Tender documents, seen by FE Week, show that 25 of the winners have been awarded their full bid values while 58 received pro-rated awards of 48.4 per cent of their original bid.

A total of £66 million was available in the procurement. There is no explanation as to why only £62.6 million is being dished out.

According to the documents, potential contractors were ranked in order of “technical score” which resulted in “blocks of scoring”.

The process was as follows: “’Block 1’ comprised of the potential contractors with the highest final technical score (FTS). These scores ranged from 500 – 410.

“’Block 2’ comprised of potential contractors with the second highest FTS achieving scores of 400.

“The AEB Budget was allocated to the highest scoring potential contractors until the budget had been used in full blocks. Potential contractors in Block 2 whose bids included SWAPS (Sector-Based Work Academy Programme) as part of their delivery were prioritised.”

Results for the national AEB tender have been hit with multiple delays.

Outcomes were originally supposed to be communicated on June 24. The ESFA then said they could not meet that deadline and bidders were told the outcomes would be ready for June 28, only for this date to be further pushed back.

Association of Employment and Learning Providers chief executive Jane Hickie said: “Congratulations to the precious few independent training providers (ITPs) who have won contracts in the latest AEB procurement and my commiserations to those of you who missed out. I am sure that among the hundreds of bids, there were many of high quality with a real focus on retraining adults as part of the pandemic recovery effort.

“Knowing that there are clawbacks in this programme and underspends in other programmes, it is so frustrating to know that ITPs are queuing up to spend a very small pot of funding in relation to the total budget and that much more funding could have been allocated to this procurement.”

She continued: “Here is a classic example of the levelling up agenda being failed miserably and we should see this in the context of the likelihood of a very tough Spending Review.

“The appalling handling of the procurement has resulted in stress and anxiety for our members and their staff, not knowing whether they would be in a position to deliver the programme after 31 July.

“The procurement has been another miserable experience all round and the whole process has been hugely damaging in a number of ways.”


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    • Confused? My bid is still "To be evaluated".....

      Our bid is still sitting at “To be evaluated”, makes you wonder….. due to the delay have they defaulted to existing providers only? Has my bid even been assessed? So frustrating at the seemingly opaque nature of this.

  1. Just Saying

    Many excellent training providers who are Ofsted Good or better with outstanding achievement rates and who met the tender selection criteria, were not awarded contracts. Given that AEB funding is the only available option to deliver the Level 3 entitlement, how are the organisations you need to deliver this target, supposed to help you now Boris?

    • Totally agree with the above comment. However, this is not just happening within the non-devolved areas, it is the same in devolved areas. the whole procurement system is flawed. Providers with no track record, no Matrix and no Ofsted gradings are being given contracts in devolved areas over ITPs who have years of experience and Ofsted grades of 2 or above.
      The thing with the ESFA is there is underspend and yet companies who have overspent their contract year after year, in some cases are given nothing.
      I wonder if the poor people who end up losing their jobs because their company has not been awarded a contract this year will be able to access funding to help them back into work?

  2. Sir Charles Litten

    Only 83 contracts. This will send shock waves through the ITP network, forcing greater subcontracting, which the ESFA don’t like.

    I am assuming that the team that was looking after a vastly more substantial number of direct contracts, is now looking around for something to do?

  3. We were told that failed due to Volumes and Values spreadsheet data not being submitted, but we definitely completed and uploaded the spreadsheet (treble checked) but somewhere in the process it seems to have been erased.

    I was just wondering if this has happened to anyone else?

    • Confused? My bid is still “To be evaluated”

      Mine is still sat at “To be evaluated”….. please could I ask how were you informed and when? Does anyone have an actual contact? Thank you