Those of us in FE with even short memories will remember that the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) was scrapped, along with 47 local LSC councils, to remove their planning role.

It is therefore something of a return to the past with devolution of the Adult Education Budget (AEB), with providers facing even greater learner postcode scrutiny.

But new SFA figures crunched by us this week expose the challenge new local commissioners will face.

When they get their hands on the budget, why would they want to pass it on to providers spending it on learners living in another area?

They won’t, so in the absence of a national provider funding system we can expect major upheaval, particularly for colleges and training providers based near to area boundaries.

The end result may be a better one, with less subcontracting and more focus on colleges, in particular, supporting their local community.

But the SFA figures understate the issue, as they are based on the nine regions in England rather than the near 40 commissioning areas.

Any provider expecting a degree of stability over the coming years from the £1.5bn AEB budget will be sorely disappointed.

Devolved commissioning will be complex and the potential for unintended consequences are great.

So before opaque chaos reigns, if not delay then let’s at least be sure there is sufficient time for well-run consultations and pilots.

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