REGULAR UPDATE FROM PAUL HOLME, CHAIR OF NORTH WEST PROVIDERS NETWORK
Apologies for not producing my monthly update for a few months but all of our attention has been focused on responding to the apprenticeship funding consultation. I want to start with this very issue – looking at where we are now and our next steps.
In terms of our response to the funding consultation we did a superb job in encouraging over 450 employers across the North West to respond. This also helped inform a NWPN Provider response to the consultation which stressed that this response was a summary of what NW employers are saying. The key message is that the majority of employers won’t employ apprenticeships in the future if the changes go ahead and the vast majority want apprenticeship funding to continue to go through employers if that is what the employer wants. Very powerful messages and an excellent response- well done to all involved. Each of our sub regions are now talking to ‘influencers’ eg Chambers, MPs, LEPs to ensure that they understand the proposals and the negative impact that they will have on apprenticeships if implemented
It is important to remember though that the consultation was only about the routing of apprenticeship funding and implementation on other aspects have continued through trailblazers and at the time of writing ministers are about to publish the rates for trailblazers, the level of employer contribution and the additional payments for 16-18 year olds, small employers (defined as under 50 employees) and achievement. It is important that we all read and understand .
Turning now to other matters. LEPs have now produced their latest plans for the 2014-20 European programmes but it is likely to be the turn of the year before they go out to tender . Over the next 6 months it is important to keep in touch to understand what is likely to be tendered for and what bidding/delivery partnerships need to put in place, remembering that the procurement area for most contracts will be LEP boundaries . The tenders will either come from SFA, DWP, Big Lottery or direct contracting from the LEP itself . Don’t forget that there are still significant resources available in the current programme with many of you holding contracts or being sub contractors.
LEPs will also receive confirmation in July of what support they will receive from government for their local growth plans (contained within their Strategic Economic Plans). These are really important both in terms of budgets that LEPs will receive (including FE capital) but also signalling what further powers and authority government intends to give to LEPs. At this stage I think that City Regions will be in the strongest position