Supporting our users to access funding on the apprenticeship service – Funding backdated starts

EmployerThis article sits within the Employer section

Following an announcement by Eileen Milner in May 2019, about better access to buy high quality apprenticeships, transition began to a new funding model for all employers where they could open an Apprenticeship Service account to choose the provision they wanted and to manage funding to pay training providers, if the provision did not already form part of the training providers contracted funding arrangements with ESFA.

In May 2020 the ESFA confirmed this transition period will be completed on 1st April 2021, from when all starts for apprenticeships will be managed by employers through the Apprenticeship Service.

This transitional period has always been seen as a significant change for training providers. However, the introduction of the new incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice that supported our COVID recovery plans caused a rapid growth in the number of employers needing to manage funding through the apprenticeship service in order to claim this incentive. This has created business change impacts for training providers [particularly FE Colleges] that have resulted in some problems in receiving payment for the delivery of apprenticeship provision.

Key to this issue, is the need for training providers to ensure that employers have opened accounts and reserved funding prior to apprentices starting their training – a big cultural change for some, in what is already a challenging time.

We have seen many cases where:

  • Training providers have started apprentices before having funding in place
  • Employers have started to open accounts to claim their incentive
  • Commitment processes cannot be completed between employers and training providers, due to the time that has passed
  • Employers cannot be paid the incentive
  • Training providers cannot be paid for training – as double lock occurs [correctly] when the ILR entry for the learner is produced.

We recognise that we are in a period of huge transition to a very different funding model, during what is a very difficult time for employers, training providers and apprentices alike, and as such to overcome the payment issues that providers are facing, we have agreed to a temporary, time-limited change where we can arrange for:

  • Funding to be backdated to the start of the apprenticeship
  • Employer’s apprenticeship service accounts to be updated to reflect the start date and the commitment
  • The employer to claim the incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice
  • The training provider to be paid for the provision they have agreed. Payments to be backdated when the ILR is submitted and paid at the next monthly payment cycle.

This change will be available to request until the 26th April 2021. This is to reflect the deadline for employers to apply for the incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice by the end of April. This process is only available for apprentices that have not already been funded using an ESFA contract in accordance with the funding rules. 

 

How the process will work

The change can be requested by a training provider or an employer.

Employers

Where the employer wishes to make the request, they should:

  1. Set-up an apprenticeship service account
  2. Agree with their training provider the date from which training started. This must be on or after 1 Aug 2020.
  3. Contact the apprenticeship support team on 08000 150 600 with details of:
  • Employers Name
  • Training provider name
  • UKPRN (training providers unique reference)
  • Unique Learner Number (The individual learner’s unique reference)
  • The apprenticeship training course (Standard)
  • Start date (the genuine start date they wish to 'backdate' to)
  • Confirm if they have a reservation of funds already in place on their apprenticeship service account for this learning (Yes/No)

You or your training provider must contact us to request this process and we will discuss with you the most efficient option to return the information required.

After we have received your request, you will receive confirmation when a reservation has been set-up. The timing for this will depend on when you request it, and the attached timeline will help identify when this will happen.

(If you do not know any of the above information, you should speak to your training provider). After we have received your request, you will receive confirmation when a reservation has been set-up. The timing for this will depend on when you request it, and the attached timeline will help identify when this will happen.

  1. The employer can now either continue to enter apprentice details into their account and pass to their training provider to confirm, or if they prefer, they can ask their training provider to complete these details for them. If they do this, they will still be able to give final approval to confirm that they agree this is what they will fund.
  2. Payments will begin to be made at the next monthly payment run at the start of each month. To trigger payments your training provider will need to submit the usual monthly data to the ESFA, with details that match the details you have agreed to fund. Payments to your training provider will be backdated to the 1 Aug 2020 or the start date on the ILR; whichever is the later

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