FE providers delivered £65 million of adult skills training for which they were not paid, new figures reveal.
According to Skills Funding Agency data, eight providers ended up more than £1 million out of pocket by laying on training outside their adult skills budget allocation in 2013/14.
Collectively, providers exceeded their adult skills budgets by £65.72 million – more than double the budget of the biggest college, NCG (formerly Newcastle College Group).
The biggest overspend came from Learndirect (£1.75 million), closely followed by Birmingham City Council (£1.7 million), City Lit college in London (£1.63 million), The Manchester College (£1.52 million), Blackpool and The Fylde College (£1.21 million), Sheffield College (£1.17 million), the Workers’ Educational Association (£1.04 million) and Bradford College (£1.01 million).
Another provider affected was the British Army, which laid on training worth £891,195 which was not covered by the SFA.
While providers can apply for extra cash to allow them to meet greater-than-expected local demand, much of this additional funding has been diverted towards apprenticeships rather than classroom-based training. Accordingly, colleges and independent training providers are left with a choice between turning learners away or recruiting them but making a loss.
Providers have also had to grapple with a new funding formula and the introduction of 24+ advanced learning loans.
An Association of Colleges spokeswoman said the adult skills budget was cut by around 15 per cent in the year in question, meaning it was “difficult for colleges to cut back as quickly as public spending”.
“Colleges deal with lots of stakeholders, such as employers, councils, local enterprise partnerships and Jobcentre Plus, who want them to do more. It's sometimes difficult for colleges to say no,” she added.
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