To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to minimise reductions in adult education opportunities by providers that are facing claw-back from their 2020-21 Adult Education Budgets as a result of his Department's decision to set the reconciliation threshold for grant-funded providers at 90 per cent.
We are lowering the reconciliation threshold of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) grant funded Adult Education Budget (AEB) (AEB adult skills including non-formula funded community learning and 19-24 traineeships) for 2020 to 2021, from 97% to 90%. This will mean that colleges that have under-delivered on this provision will be able to retain more funding than they normally would.
The allocations for the COVID-19 skills offer, including funding for the new level 3 adult offer, are ringfenced and the reconciliation threshold for under-delivery of this provision will remain at 97%.
Our primary aim is to support providers to continue to deliver as much quality provision as possible, including above the 90% threshold, whether that be face-to-face where permitted, online, or otherwise remotely. This includes sub-contracting (for AEB-funded provision only) where that is in line with our subcontracting conditions set out in the rules and contracts.
Our latest data shows that a threshold of 90% is a fair representation of the providers’ average forecasted delivery for the 2020/21 academic year.
We acknowledge the situation is still difficult for providers. Equally, we know that many providers have been able to deliver successfully remotely during lockdown. The return to face-to-face learning should further enhance providers’ ability to deliver.
For colleges who are eligible and are at risk of insolvency, they would be supported by the Insolvency Regime or the Emergency funding process.
This 90% threshold is the final position for the 2020/2021 academic year and will not be subject to change. There will not be a business case process. In areas where the AEB has been devolved, Mayoral Combined Authorities and Greater London Authority are responsible for considering any provider flexibilities in their areas.