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From the 1st August 2019 the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is no longer accountable for the totality of the Adult Education Budget (AEB).  Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCAs) and the Greater London Authority (GLA) have responsibility for funding adult education in their local areas, giving greater powers to local areas.

These changes were outline in the Adult education budget: changing context and the arrangements for 2016 to 2017 and the Industrial Strategy: building a Britain fit for the future.

The ESFA guidance for providers on AEB devolution provides advice for providers, information on responsibilities for the devolved authorities and a background to devolution.

The devolved areas have their own Funding and Performance Management rules:

This means that as of the 1st August 2019 the ESFA is no longer be accountable for administering AEB in these areas.

Two more areas are planned to be devolved the following year: Sheffield City and North of Tyne.

Frequently Asked Questions about Devolution
How will learner eligibility be determined?

Funding of the learner will be determined by their residency postcode prior to enrolment (DFE, Devolution of adult education functions from Academic Year 2019/20). Learner residency is an important element of eligibility for funding and we anticipate some issues particularly for learners that live outside but work in the devolved area.

What is the low wage threshold?

The low wage threshold was introduced this year as a trial by the ESFA to encourage career progression for low paid adult workers. This enabled employed learners who were on low wages to be eligible for full funding for qualifications up to and including level 2.

From 2019/20 the low-wage threshold has been increased in line with the national living work to £16,009.50 and £19,890 in London. Self employed learners are also eligible.

One example of this is ESOL where the low wage threshold for employed learners will enable those whose first language is not English to access ESOL qualifications to provide the language skills that they need for career progression.

What is not included in devolution?

Apprenticeships and Traineeships as these will remain nationally funded.

How much provision will be grant funded and how much will be procured?

All Colleges and Local Authorities will be grant funded if they are in the local area. In addition to this the MCA or GLA will determine a proportion to be procured. We know that the amount for procurement in London for 2019/20 this will be 10% of the overall Adult Education Budget which is £311,000,000. The contracts awarded in London will be four year contracts managed by the GLA. The minimum contract value in London will be £400,000 and the maximum will be £10,000,000.

The procured AEB contracts in London are split between employed and unemployed learners with 75% allocated to unemployed learners.

How will AEB provider allocations to non-devolved areas be determined?

Calculating AEB provider allocations to non-devolved areas will be based on last year’s provider performance in those areas. If providers are delivering to eligible adults in a devolved area they will have to manage separate contracts for nationally funded programmes such as traineeships and devolved AEB.

How could this change provider delivery patterns?

Colleges will focus on their local areas and they additionally they may also increase their adult funding via competitive procurement process. There may be new providers through AEB that historically always used to subcontract.

Which qualifications align to sector priorities in the devolved areas?

Key themes coming through in the devolved area skills strategies include:

  • ESOL
  • Creative and Digital
  • Health and Social Care
  • Construction
  • English and Maths
  • Logistics
  • Retail

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