Mayoral Combined Authorities and Greater London Authority delivering devolved AEB
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Devolution of the Adult Education Budget

Does this mean more confusion for HSC employers?

Published on February 23rd, 2023

Too few Health and Social Care (HSC) employers understand how funding works

Far too many employers fail to engage with the funding landscape and simply rely upon their local college or provider to guide them and advise them as to what is available. A case in point: I recently attended the Greater Manchester Combined Authority presentation to launch their £7m Boot Camp programme. The programme offers financial support to enable employers onboard new staff via a flexible offer of funded training and qualifications. A key tenet of the programme is input from employers, who will help to shape the focus of the programme; however, of an audience of around 100 people, there were only one or two employers present – with the rest being training providers, colleges, local authority employees and some third-sector representatives. I see this time and again, employers struggling to invest in staff development yet simultaneously missing out on valuable funding.

In my experience, many employers are simply too busy or lack the know-how to understand how to navigate the often opaque nature of government funding. And, unfortunately for some, things are likely to get even more convoluted following the government’s drive towards greater devolution.

Devolution of the Adult Education Budget will create more complexity

The Adult Education Budget (AEB) underpins access to accredited qualifications, the backbone of a successful employer L&D strategy. A year ago, in February 2022, the government published its Levelling Up White Paper, in which new plans to further devolve the AEB were outlined.

The transition towards an more decentralised model will mean decisions about how to support local employers will increasingly become regionalised. Each region will operate its own budget and determine its own priorities. This has the potential to cause headaches for providers who operate across one or more regions, with a postcode lottery determining what level of training and qualifications can be supported.

Currently in England, around 21 regions either already have a devolved agreement or have proposals under negotiation. Ten of these areas are mayoral combined authorities (MCA), which already have control over their AEB – and of these, Greater Manchester and West Midlands have been selected by the government to be the ‘trailblazers’ for further devolution. Other areas are being invited to negotiate devolution ‘deals’ – with the goal that control of the AEB will be fully devolved to all regions across England by 2030. With many HSC employers already struggling to engage with fundholders these developments are likely to simply exacerbate the problem.

Why is this a problem?

Each year the government allocates millions of pounds across all of its training programmes, Apprenticeships, Traineeships, Bootcamps, Community learning, free courses for jobs offer etc. However, year after year we see significant underspend with money left on the table and simply returned to the DHSC.

This level of complexity understandably means that HSC employers are often overwhelmed by the maze of information and level of research required of them – and as a result, do not engage with the funding landscape at all. It’s simply too time-consuming. Furthermore, if employers are not engaged and actively involved in designing the training programmes, the result often leads to limitations in choice, with colleges and providers simply offering the same-old, same-old training. Nobody wins.

Access to funding made easy

Here at EdgeWorks™, we make it our business to understand the intricacies of funding, how to access it, how to make it work and how to create fully-compliant programmes that deliver real value to employers.

We keep abreast of changes – and rumours of change – so that we can stay ahead of the game. It’s in fact, one of the reasons that we founded the Funding Alliance, our pioneering programme that connects employees with learning providers who can provide access to funding for the essential qualifications and courses everyone needs. We have already secured and delivered in excess of £250,000 worth of funding for our clients over the past 12 months alone – which has delivered training to hundreds of employees at no cost to their employers and helped boost recruitment and staff retention.

If you’d like to get onto the front foot and not be left behind, get in touch with us today.