funding updates banner

Funding updates

Funding updates

Updated 02 July 2021 - Review of post-16 qualifications at level 3 and below. Withdrawal of funding approval for qualifications with no and low publicly funded enrolments

ESFA have once again reviewed low and no demand qualifications that have less than 100 learners drawing down funding. This will be an annual review of all Awarding Organisation qualifications. City & Guilds appealed a substantial amount qualifications with low demand and have been successful in retaining funding for 133 qualifications. ESFA will remove funding from the remaining qualifications listed here by August 2022.

In addition to those that had their funding retained, 14 of these qualifications are now eligible for National Skills Funding, this is yet to be confirmed and added to the register. This is in addition to the ones that had already been identified. For further details please go to National Skills Fund webpage.

Finally, as part of our quality process, we do assess content and usage of our qualifications to ensure they remain relevant to current skills needs. Where we find that qualifications are no longer relevant (indicated by low or no uptake), we may take a decision to close those qualifications. Please ensure you regularly monitor communication from City and Guilds for the latest updates on qualifications being retired or withdrawn from the market. 

Keep up to date with immediate news and funding changes

LinkedIn: Bryony Kingsland
Twitter: @BryonyKingsland

Past Funding updates

February 2020 Funding Update

Dept for Education Withdrawal of Funding for Qualifications with Low/No Registrations – February 2020

Many of you may have seen the recent announcement by the Department of Education (the Dept) stating their intention to remove funding from many qualifications that have had low or no learner starts over the last 3 years.

This has inevitably caused some concern with training providers and employers and we wanted to offer assurance that we are working to reduce the fallout from this aspect of the Dept’s qualifications reforms, as far as we possibly can. In this update, I’ll give an overview of the announcement and what it means and explain what City & Guilds are doing about the change.

Below are the key points from the announcement:

  • The qualifications on the Dept’s list will not be removed from funding until the end of July 2021. So we have 1.5 years to prepare for this change.
  • There is an appeal process for Awarding Organisations (AO’s) to challenge the Dept/ESFA’s decision. The appeal window ends on 27th March 2020. So, although qualifications may not be removed from funding until 2021, we have limited time to appeal.
  • AO’s can challenge/appeal a qualifications removal for the following reasons:
    1. We are able to prove that the low/no numbers data is inaccurate and the low/no rule has been applied incorrectly to a qualification
    2. We can prove the qualification is showing increase public demand.
    3. We can prove that removing funding for new starts for the qualification will have significant adverse impact on:
      • a specific group of students including, but not exclusively, those who are covered by the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010
      • a provider or specific group of providers of education and training
      • a subject or occupational sector, for example by there being an economic need and no alternative qualification
      • a geographical area, a local authority or a combined mayoral authority.
  • Evidence required for appeals may include the need for letters of support from providers, local or combined authorities, employers or trade bodies.
  • The Dept intend to carry out this process on an annual basis, which means further quals are likely to be removed from the funded offer in future years.

The City & Guilds Industry team is working through the list of 729 City & Guilds qualifications in the Dept’s list and already have identified over 100 where our certifications data does not match the Dept’s figures. We will appeal these qualifications, along with any we know support niche industries or regional economic needs.

Further information

There is a Gov webpage with the list of qualifications and guidance for appeals. Fincd out more: Low/No Qualification Removal Guidance and List

The withdrawal of funding approval from qualifications with low and no enrolments is part of the Dept’s Review of Post 16 Qualifications at L3 and below.

May 2019 Funding Update

It’s always difficult to know how often to provide funding bulletins. Sometimes, there is a lot to say, at other times, very little, and I always loathe to send out a bulletin for the sake of it. I’m pretty sure another email falling into your inbox that doesn’t actually offer any useful information would soon result in emails back to me asking why! I’m always open to constructive feedback, so if you want to make suggestions about how often I should send these and the content, please feel free to contact me on the email below with your thoughts. I can’t promise to keep everyone happy, but if I can make improvements that benefit everyone, I will.

This bulletin will cover;

Off the Job Training

This announcement made me wonder if I was hallucinating when on Friday 22 March, the ESFA published Off the Job guidance and a Commitment Statement template to help providers with this, always sticky, apprenticeship delivery requirement. The guidance stated that all off-the-job calculations should be based on 30 hours per week for full-time apprentices and the Commitment Statement template supported that. This directly conflicted with the guidance in the funding rules, which states that off-the-job calculations should be based on contracted paid hours. It made for an interesting AAC Conference and was one of the main topics of conversation, along with prior learning (which I’ll cover later). ESFA staff were at the conference and questions and challenges came thick and fast. Eventually, Keith Smith stated that the ESFA would issue a clarification notice within a week, which they did, via their 3 April Update. Disappointingly, the calculation has reverted to being based on paid hours, so we still have that inequality of off-the-job delivery hours being different for apprentices on the same programme, depending on what contracted, paid hours the apprentices work.

Introduction of new or adjusted funding rules is never easy when it happens mid-year. It often leaves providers wondering when they need to implement the changes from. Should they implement the change from the date of announcement, or from the beginning of the new academic year? ESFA rarely make this clear in any announcement, which is often what causes the most confusion and worry. We can only hope that sense prevails and ESFA introduce this as the new arrangements from 1 August for the 2019/20 funding year. We will continue to lobby for this as it makes sense and reduces inequality in delivery of apprenticeship programmes.

ESFA Off the Job Guidance and Commitment Statement Template >

Initial Assessment and Prior Learning in Apprenticeships

This is a hot topic at the moment. In February 2019, the ESFA advertised for an organisation to research and investigate how providers are assessing prior learning and reducing duration, content and prices of apprenticeships accordingly. Keep in mind the phrase – value for money, which the ESFA, IfATE and DfE certainly have at the forefront of their plans and policy. Not surprisingly when predictions point to the levy being overspent in the near future.

What the funding rules state is that; “apprenticeship funding should not be used to pay for, or accredit, existing knowledge, skills and behaviours.”

However, assessing prior learning isn’t always as straightforward as checking new apprentice’s previous qualifications or programmes.

This is where Initial assessment comes in. It’s one of the most important tasks that any provider carries out, to truly ensure the programme meets the needs of the learner. And to ensure they are safe from funding clawback at ESFA audits.

I recently rain a webinar on 5 steps to best practice in assessing prior learning. You can access the recording and a copy of the webinars slides and Q&A

Prior Learning Webinar >

AEB Low Wage Flexibility Extension

Some good news here for providers, which can help avoidance of AEB underspend if planned well, and for social mobility. The low wage flexibility that allows providers to fully fund 19+ learners who were previously co-funded, has been extended into the 2019/20 delivery year. There is more information on this on the City & Guilds AEB Funding site.

This flex is great for ESOL as well, as many ESOL learners are low waged due to poor language skills.

The new 2019/20 City & Guilds Funded qualification catalogue will soon be available on our site and this can help you plan AEB delivery to make best use of your funding. Our Business Managers are also on hand to support so please do contact them directly, or call our customer services team on Tel: 0192 4930 800, if you are a new customer.

ESF Contracts – Unit Guidance for Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW)

Some providers have recently won contracts to deliver ESF funding for SSW and I’ve received a lot of queries about why some City & Guilds units that show as valid on our Walled Garden portal, are not available on the ESFA Hub/Learning Aim Reference Service (LARS). This is because the ESFA do not automatically add units or components of qualifications to LARS for funding just because we make them available. So, if providers want to use units for ESF SSW delivery that are not showing on the Hub/LARS, you need to contact the ESFA to request that availability and there is, apparently, a process for this included in your ESFA ESF information.

I have produced an ESF unit catalogue to support our customers with this and all Business Managers have a copy and can support you with planning. It will also be included on our ESF web page in the very near future and I will send that URL link with the next bulletin.

Apprenticeship Framework Removal – 2020

The ESFA announced on 2 May that they will remove the remaining apprenticeship frameworks that are available for delivery at the end of July 2020. There have been over 90,000 framework starts since the beginning of this delivery year, which indicates that employers still want to access frameworks, particularly at level 2, as shown in table 1 below.

Table 1 – apprenticeship starts since 1 August 2018 to end March 2019

Current Delivery Year (to end March 19)





2018/19 Reported to Date





2018/19 Reported to Date





2018/19 Reported to Date





2018/19 Reported to Date





2018/19 Reported to Date





2018/19 Reported to Date





2018/19 Reported to Date Total





Now is the time to hold conversations with your employers to discuss what standards may be available to replace their planned training needs from next year.

There are currently 441 standards available for delivery, 156 in development and 62 proposals for new standards. If all those in development are approved, there will be 597 standards available for delivery, at some point. More information on those in development and those proposed can be found on the IfATE website. You can filter the results to see what standards are in development to help you plan with your employers.

Funding Rates and Formula

ESFA have published the 2019/20 draft funding rules, rates and formula for both AEB and 16-19.

If there are any major changes, I will run webinars to support our customers before end of June, which will be flagged in the next Bulletin.

19+ Funding Rules Rates and Formula 2019/20 >

16-19 Funding Rates and Formula 2019/20 >

16-19 Funding Rules 2019/20 >


Please email me if you have any suggestions for improvements or changes to this bulletin, so I can make sure it does what you need.


Keep up to date with immediate news and funding changes

LinkedIn: Bryony Kingsland
Twitter: @BryonyKingsland

February 2019 Funding Update

This month’s update will cover:

  • Apprenticeship Levy Transfer news
  • Non-levy apprenticeship over-delivery
  • Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers - applications process
  • Apprenticeship Funding Band reviews
  • Advance Learner Loan - Growth Facility


Apprenticeship Levy Transfer news

ESFA have now confirmed that the amount of levy employers can transfer to other employers (levy or non-levy payers), increases from 1st April from 10% to 25%.

This was announced by the Chancellor in last year’s budget, but news on the change had gone very quiet, which had us all wondering if it was still in the mix. No news on the drop from 10% to 5% contribution for non-levy provision, so still hoping that will go ahead and we’ll hear more in March.

The increase in transfer percentage is a good opportunity as it can help more non-levy employers to deliver apprenticeships. It can also help regions working together address skills shortages in particular sectors, if employers and providers are willing to work together and plan transfer funds to other local employers to address those skills shortages with specified apprenticeships. This is happening in areas such as Manchester and is working well.


Non-Apprenticeship over delivery

ESFA have been monitoring apprenticeship delivery and have now confirmed they are able to fund over-delivery in non-levy apprenticeships from January 2018 to March 2019, including delivery that exceeds provider contract allocation.

They anticipate having enough budget to fund all over-delivery, but they’ll confirm for definite after they have carried out a due diligence process, i.e., how many providers are asking for over-delivery and how much budget have they got. If they don’t have enough budget to cover all over-delivery, they’ll write to all providers and indicate the criteria that will be used to allocate the budget available. Thus, there is some risk involved, but this is the last chance for providers to register apprenticeship starts over and above their non-levy contract value.

Any over-delivery is subject to affordability and also conditional on provider compliance with the terms of the funding rules and provider contracts, so the usual quality requirements apply.

ESFA plan to issue variations for over-delivery to R06 in February and will revisit 2018 to 2019 financial year capping again in May and November. ESFA say they will no longer fund over-delivery from 1 April 2019.


Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers - applications process

ESFA have updated the RoATP application process regarding Ofsted Inspections and have now clarified that they will accept short inspection outcomes, which is a great move forward. The inspection, which must confirm an overall grade of good, no more than 3 years prior to the application where a provider was awarded:

  • An apprenticeship grade of outstanding or good in their most recent inspection, for the purposes of question PR-1 of the application
  • An overall grade of outstanding or good in the remit of FE and Skills for the purposes of question PR-4 of the application

Important note on the re-application process: all current RoATP registered providers will be expected to re-apply by August this year and will receive an invitation from ESFA with a deadline for re-application. It’s not an option to miss that deadline. If you are unable to submit your application on time, ESFA will strike your organisation off the register 30 days later. ESFA have also asked that providers wait for the invitation to arrive before they reapply to avoid log-jams in applications their end.


Apprenticeship Standards Funding Bands reviews

The IfA have announced the downgrading in funding band for the following Apprenticeship Standard:

Standard Title

Current Band

New Band

Date of change in band

Digital and Technology Solutions Professional

£27,000 (band 30)

£25,000 (band 28)

13 May 2019


A further 30 funding bands are under review - more changes will be announced over the coming 3 to 6 months.


Advanced Learner Loans - Growth Facility

The ESFA have flagged that the growth and new facility request forms for Advanced Learner Loans are now available.

Completed request forms must be sent to:  before 5pm on Friday 1 March 2019.

Providers should submit a growth request form to be considered for an increase in your loan facility. Adult Learner Loans can be used to deliver City & Guilds Level 3 to Level 6 qualifications in our Loan Catalogue for learners over 19 years of age. This is excellent for 19+ learners who are not suitable for an apprenticeship.

January 2019 Funding Update

This update will cover:

  • We are running a webinar on 31 January about AEB Funding and devolution.
  • Adult Education Budget (AEB) eligibility rules to help you support lower paid workers and ESOL learners improve their skills
  • Devolution of the AEB and what it means for providers in devolving areas and around the rest of the country
  • The 16-19 Funding changes announced by the ESFA in December 2018.


AEB Eligibility - ESFA Flexing of Funding Rules

In 2018/19, the ESFA have made some learner eligibility changes to the Adult Education Budget (AEB). For many providers, using all the AEB allocation has been challenging in the last few years. The changes to the 2018/19 AEB funding rules allows providers to offer fully funded programmes to learners on wages of £15,736.50 or less, where previously, many of those learners would have to contribute 50% of the costs. This is a welcome opportunity to spend more of your AEB budget to support learners who may not have been able to access your courses and programmes before, whilst increasing social mobility.

The new flex also applies to ESOL learners. This is a big opportunity to increase local access to ESOL programmes. Many individuals who don’t speak or write good English remain in low paid jobs because their English skills are poor. Being low paid means they often cannot contribute towards their course costs, keeping them in a cycle of low skills/poor employment opportunities. City & Guilds has worked hard to develop an offer which best suits the specific needs of ESOL provision, supporting flexible delivery, responsive assessment and encouraging maximum learner engagement.


City & Guilds ESOL Information

The ESFA has agreed that up to 3% overspend is available in 18/19 for all providers with AEB funding agreements, if provider history shows that Ofsted grades, minimum quality standards, financial health, financial management and controls meets ESFA requirements. The 103% tolerance calculation will include non-formula funded community learning delivery, but only up to the amount set out in your funding agreement.

These new flexibilities are only available during this academic year at the moment.  ESFA and DfE will announce later in the spring if they intend to extend the flexibility into next year’s funding rules.

The new low wage flexibility rules are on pages 24 and 28 of the ESFA AEB funding rules document:

Adult Education Budget Funding Rules 2018/19 >

For more information, visit the dedicated AEB Funding page on our website.


Adult Education Budget Devolution

After a slow start, it now seems devolution of the AEB is moving towards us at terminal velocity. Whilst the opportunity for local areas to develop plans that meet local skills needs is great and much needed, there are going to be some challenges for providers that come with the new arrangements. These are the areas that are devolving:

Two further Mayoral Combined Authorities (MCA’s), North of Tyne and Sheffield City Region, devolve one year later in the 2020 to 2021 academic year, if the ESFA assesses them as ready.

All MCA’s are going out to tender to procure their adult education provision. London, Liverpool City Region and Manchester have already published their Invitations to Tender (ITT) late in 2018. Tees Valley ITT is open now, West Midlands is due to publish in January, with the remaining MCA’s due to publish ITT’s early in 2019, so it’s worth keeping an eye out on MCA websites and signing up for News Bulletins on the links above to keep track of opportunities to deliver AEB programmes in an MCA area.

Any provider with AEB funding will be affected by devolution, even those in non-devolved areas. MCA’s will fund learners with a home postcodes in their area. ESFA will fund all other learners. So providers may have a single funding agreement with a commissioning authority or multiple funding agreements covering one or more MCA’s and ESFA. Therefore, it’s important that providers understand how much of their delivery (direct and sub-contracted) is to residents of devolved areas. The new arrangements will make for some interesting boundary issues for providers. Also for learners that commute into an area, or that are close to a boundary and local provider but their postcode is outside the MCA locality.

Finally, all MCA’s are setting their own funding rules, rates and formula, and will expect a separate data return from the ESFA ILR returns. MCA’s are working with ESFA to make this this as painless as possible, but it’s likely to add some extra administrative burden if providers AEB contracts cover more than one area.


City & Guilds Support

City & Guilds provides a catalogue of our funded qualifications, which is broken down by sector subject area, level and size. This will make it easy for you to work out which qualifications support your local MCA priorities and how much funding you can draw down.

City & Guilds Qualification Catalogue >

16-18 funding changes

In December 2018, the ESFA announced a funding change resulting from their Review of 16-19 study Programmes. The funding change proposed, which would have been introduced in 2019/20 academic year, was that students with prior attainment in English and maths at Grade 4, or above that are undertaking a vocational qualification, would not be expected to be on an Entry Level or Level 1 core aim, even if they had no previous experience in the vocational area – they should undertake a core aim at L2 or above, except in exceptional circumstances.

After consultation with the sector, the ESFA have announced that they will not introduce this new funding rule but will consult further and decide whether to introduce the change in 2020/2021 instead. It’s a welcome delay to a rule that could have had a profound and potentially negative affect on learner’s progression and achievement.


City & Guilds held an AEB webinar on 31 January 2019 outlining updates on AEB developments and devolution.

Watch now

More information 

Already offering City & Guilds qualifications? Contact your dedicated Business Manager.

If you are new to City & Guilds and would like to offer our AEB funded qualifications, call our team: 01924 206709 or complete the Customer application form.