Results of ESFA Non-Levy Apprenticeships Procurement

Last week the ESFA notified applicants about the outcome of the recent procurement exercise for Apprenticeship training for non-levy paying employers. GMLPF is conducting a survey with its members to try to establish the impact of this procurement exercise.

At this early stage, we know the following

  • Nationally, it is clear that the ESFA has awarded learning providers a significantly reduced allocation, using a pro rate formula, than they originally asked for.
  • Regionally in the NW, it would appear that learning providers overall have been awarded funding that equates to approximately 61% and 54% of their 16-18 and 19+ bid values respectively. Some providers may have received more or less than this.
  • That in a number of case ESFA do not appear to have issued details of the scores which the applicant was awarded.
  • That mirroring the recent AEB procurement exercise, some providers have scored very highly and their tender passed the compliance checks and qualitative criteria yet, because their contract award resulted in a contract value of less than £200,000 for the Initial Contract Period , they have been unsuccessful.

Members have been sent a link to an online survey. Please complete the survey as this will provide GMLPF with a clear picture of the impact upon our members of the results that were published last week and assist us to more effectively represent you and lobby for change on your behalf. If you are a member and haven’t received a link please e-mail

GMLPF and ESFA meet to discuss local impact of non-levy allocation cuts

GMLPF chair Debbie Tagoe and Paul Johnson, Head of Provider Management at ESFA met on Friday to discuss the impact of cuts in Apprenticeships allocations for non-levy paying employers.


The board, staff and members of GMLPF are concerned that the reduced Apprenticeships allocations announced recently will have an adverse impact on:

  • Training providers: financial insecurity; redundancies; business closure with subcontractors especially at risk
  • Employers: Less funding available for Apprenticeships; fewer providers to choose from; limited niche provision; ultimately less involvement by SMEs
  • Young People: fewer providers/SMEs offering Apprenticeship opportunities; increased NEET
  • Apprenticeships: credibility of brand undermined; achievement of Gov’t targets unlikely

Business As Usual

Debbie put these concerns to Paul Johnson who made it clear that the ESFA are urging providers to proceed with business as usual.

He emphasised that providers should:

  1. Ensure you have read the document New non-levy apprenticeship starts for the period May 2017 to December 2017 sent out by the ESFA earlier this month thoroughly. You will see that some of the concerns that have been raised by GMLPF members are in fact addressed in this document
  2. Check your levy/non-levy allocation is correct by applying the method laid out on page 5 of New non-levy apprenticeship starts for the period May 2017 to December 2017. If you believe that there are discrepancies in the data used to calculate your allocation, you must contact your business manager immediately to discuss putting a business case forward by 31st May

Any GMLPF members who have already contacted their business manager regarding discrepancies and not heard back are asked to inform Debbie Tagoe. Paul Johnson has offered to chase up responses for GMLPF members.


He offered the following reassurances:

  • Allocations DO NOT include carry-in funding. Carry-in allocations will be issued in July (for learners starting before 1 May) and December (for new starts between May-Dec 2017) Providers should be reassured by the fact that current and future carry-in allocations will be based on assumption of 100% achievement rate.
  • ESFA are fully committed to funding high quality apprenticeships and will continue to do so as indicated on page 7 of New non-levy apprenticeship starts for the period May 2017 to December 2017
  • Providers who have a sensible approach to recruitment ie focussing on high quality apprenticeships in quantities which are demonstrably manageable in relation to their organisational resources, will be in prime position for growth allocations.

Calculated risk likely to be best approach
GMLPF concludes that the message coming from the ESFA is that providers who will be successful under the new funding arrangements are those who continue business as they have always done, taking a sensible, realistic approach to recruitment.

Whilst it may be an understandable kneejerk reaction in response to perceived cuts in funding, it seems likely that providers who reduce their operations or who step back from subcontracting will find themselves saddled with a restrictive delivery model that will not allow for growth when the opportunities come along shortly ie July and December  

As with any industry sector, it is the businesses that take calculated risks in periods of uncertainty that are most likely to succeed

Raising awareness of impact of funding cuts

GMLPF remains committed to raising awareness of the negative impact of any funding cuts on providers, businesses, young people and the apprenticeships brand. This is outlined in our infographic cuts to non levy funding May 2017 which we encourage members to share with MPs and via social media.

Foundation for ongoing relations with ESFA

We are greatly encouraged that following Debbie Tagoe’s meeting with Paul Johnson, he is keen to further develop relations with GMLPF. He congratulated GMLPF on our evidence-based approach to outlining impact of cuts on providers, informed by the statistics gathered from our recent online member survey. He has indicated he would like to start a piece of work with GMLPF post-election on benefit realisation of apprentices, looking at local case studies.

Adult Education Budget

In addition, Paul Johnson confirmed that announcements about procurement results for the Adult Education Budget will be made after the election.





GMLPF workshop tackles issues highlighted by Ofsted as needing focus

Greater Merseyside Learning Providers’ Federation (GMLPF) is calling on further education providers to wise up on safeguarding issues.

The local umbrella organisation for skills providers is warning that a ‘tick box’ approach will not result in meaningful ways to reduce the risks posed by radicalisation and extremism.

GMLPF will host a CPD workshop later this month titled ‘Prevent, Safeguarding & British Values: What is Ofsted looking for?

The government published the Prevent strategy in 2011 as part of its overall counter-terrorism strategy. Prevent duty guidance for the further education and skills sector was then introduced in September 2015. This requires all further education and skills providers in England to ‘have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’.

British values are a set of values which were introduced to keep young people safe and promote their welfare. Institutions are expected to encourage students to respect other people and use their leadership to exemplify British values in their management.

Ofsted report

However, an Ofsted report in 2016 highlighted that a number of further education providers are not implementing the Prevent duty successfully.

At the workshop on Wednesday 25 January, GMLPF will help skills providers understand what they are expected to do to fulfil Ofsted requirements and how to keep learners safe.

30 years’ experience

Delivered by Trevor Alley, who has over 30 years’ experience in the further education sector, the workshop will offer providers an informative resource on how to implement and evaluate new strategies; pastoral support and outline Ofsted’s requirements and expectations.

Joanne Rymer, membership development manager at GMLPF, says: “While it is impossible to shield pupils from all forms of extremism and discrimination, we believe that equipping staff with the right tools will allow them to recognise the signs and deal with any issues as and when they arise. It is not enough to simply tick a box to say that your staff have undergone training; it’s about understanding the nature of specific risks in the local community.

“Safeguarding young people is a job for us all and this workshop will detail not only what Ofsted are looking for but how providers can demonstrate the impact their strategies are having on learners.

“Empowering young people to understand the risks that are out there, particularly in the digital realm, is more vital than ever. Those working in education need to put safeguarding and British values at the heart of what they do to ensure success and promote diversity and equality.”

CPD workshops

This workshop is the latest in a series of CPD workshops that are proving popular with GMLPF members.

Emma Sinnett from member Mode Training, says: “GMLPF’s latest CPD workshops are a cost effective way to implement staff development and ensure that new practices and standards are maintained within the skills sector. The workshops focus on different hot topics within the skills sector to maximise staff potential, improve staff morale and promote best practice; we have found them thoroughly engaging and informative so far.”

The workshop will take place on Wednesday 25 January, 9.00 – 16.00. For further information and tickets, please visit:

For all booking enquiries please contact

Apprenticeship Levy Latest

Gareth Jones, GMLPF’s Apprenticeship Strategy Manager, summarises the key updates from BIS on the Apprenticeship Levy. Gareth’s report highlights updates to the conditions that apply to Levy-paying employers and the introduction of conditions for non Levy-paying employers.

We strongly advise GMLPF members to start having conversations with their employers, if they haven’t already, regardless of whether they will be paying the Levy or not.

Levy- paying employers
  • The £15,000 Apprenticeship Levy Allowance will be operated on monthly basis (£1250 per month), with any unused allowance rolling over to the next month 
  • It’s is the employer’s responsibility to – calculate whether they have to pay the Levy – make arrangements to pay it alongside their PAYE bill every month
  • Levy-paying employers will be able to register for an online account with the Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) from January 2017. 7. As expected, only Levy-paying employers will have access to DAS from April 2017. All other employers are expected to be using DAS by 2020.
  • Levy contributions will appear in online accounts a few days after payment is made to HMRC. So employers can expect to see their payments showing in their DAS accounts from late May 2017
  • The Government will provide a 10% top-up to an employer’s Levy contributions will be applied at the same time the employer’s money is credited into DAS accounts. For every £1 an employer pays into the Levy they will receive £1.10
  • Levy contributions will expire 18 months after the contribution was made. Originally it was assumed they would expire after 2 years
  • During the first year of operation, employers are only permitted to spend the Levy on their own staff.
  • Apprenticeships which start before April 2017 will be funded in line with current models i.e. Frameworks or Trailblazer Standard funding models
  • Employers don’t have to wait until they have enough funds in their DAS account to cover the full cost of an Apprenticeship before a member of staff starts training. Having enough funds to cover the skills provider’s charges for the first month’s training is sufficient.
  • Payments to skills providers will be made monthly via the DAS
  • Extra support will be available for employers who recruit 16-18 year olds (an incentive payment). This will be paid via their skills provider.
  • Apprentices with additional needs are eligible for extra support which is funded through direct payment to their skills provider. It is expected that the provider will be responsible for identifying the additional needs and arranging funding directly with Government.
  • Funding for English and Maths will be paid directly to the provider by the Government
For non Levy-paying employers
  • From April 2017, all non-levy paying employers will be required to “co-invest’ in training, i.e. agree a price with a provider and then pay towards the cost of the training
  • Employers will make a contribution to the cost of this training. The Government will pay the balance, up to the maximum amount of funding available for that Apprenticeship.
  • Employers will pay their contribution directly to the skills provider and will be able to spread payments over the life time of the Apprenticeship. The Government will pay the balance directly to the provider
  • Employers can only use approved skills providers for Apprenticeships training. There is not yet any definitive information about what an approved provider is, or the registration process.

Further information will be released in June, October and then finally in December 2016.

It’s worth noting that whilst the majority of GMLPF’s employers will not be subject to the Levy, the risk is that the introduction of co-investing means they might be put off taking on apprentices. But this scenario is counterbalanced by the view that there are few worthwhile alternatives for employers wanting to develop their workforce. And financial incentives may prove enough to keep these employers on board. The simple fact is that we don’t know how things will turn out. We can make predictions but the rules continue to be tweaked. All we can do is continue to keep up with the latest Government updates and scenario plan for potential outcomes.

Gareth Jones
GMLPF Apprenticeships Strategy Manager

For more information, please download the slides: Apprenticeship Levy Update