Labour: 'No justification' for lack of provider support

Labour urges Gavin Williamson to abandon 'very flimsy case' for excluding levy-funded apprenticeships from relief scheme
27th May 2020, 5:59pm

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Labour: 'No justification' for lack of provider support

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archive/labour-no-justification-lack-provider-support
Coronavirus: Labour's Rebecca Long-bailey Has Written To The Education Secretary About Apprenticeship Funding

Labour's shadow education ministers have written to the education secretary urging him to "abandon what appears to be a very flimsy case for excluding levy-funded apprenticeships from the DfE's relief scheme".

In a joint letter to Gavin Williamson and apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan, Rebecca Long-Bailey and shadow apprenticeships minister Toby Perkins say that they do not accept that "there is any justification for the department to not extend that arrangement to those who supply to apprenticeship levy-funded apprentices, too".

At the end of April, the Department for Education published details on its supplier relief scheme for apprenticeship providers - including support with their cashflow. 

To be eligible, providers must hold "a direct contract that was procured as a service under Public Contract Regulations 2015".

"This applies to apprenticeship contracts that commenced in January 2018, for delivery to smaller employers that do not pay the levy (non-levy), and adult education budget contract for services that commenced in November 2017," the government said - meaning that providers cannot seek this support for apprenticeships funded through the levy.

Coronavirus: Funding support for apprenticeship providers

The Association of Employment and Learning Providers' lawyers, Veale Wasbrough Vizards LLP, wrote a letter saying that the government's alleged failure to act in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance "displays a multiplicity of legal errors" and "an abuse of power". 

In their letter today, Ms Long-Bailey and Mr Perkins write: "The fact that around a quarter of what the DfE term 'quality providers' have applied for the original supplier relief scheme should be irrelevant to whether the government extends that scheme to cover those apprenticeships covered by the levy.

"The government should recognise that many providers heeded the advice of the [Education and Skills Funding Agency's] ESFA's leadership when the levy was introduced that they should concentrate on building up business among levy payers and understand that this explains why only a limited number applied for non-levy relief and why levy-funded apprenticeships now account for two-thirds of the market. Why should they be 'punished' for heeding official advice and being prudent about their finances?"

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment. 

The letter in full

Toby perkins letter one

Toby Perkins letter two

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