The long-awaited national tender for the adult education budget was launched by the Agency for the Financing of Education and Skills.
Bids for a portion of the £ 73 million originally up for grabs in 2021/22 will be submitted over the next six weeks, with a final deadline of March 22nd.
Procurement includes caps depending on the type of vendor seeking funding to “mitigate significant oversubscriptions and speculative bids.” A minimum order value was set at £ 150,000 and a maximum of £ 3 million.
ESFA had originally planned to launch the tender in July 2020, but has faced a number of setbacks. It is a “replacement exercise”, which roughly corresponds to the size of the controversial AEB tender, which caused chaos in 2017 – whose contracts expire this year.
Priority courses for this call include the new first full Level 3 qualification offering for people aged 24 and over under the Prime Minister’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, and Sectoral Labor College Programs (SWAPs), both of which were important features of the Chancellor Plan for Jobs program.
Every provider who bids has their financial health assessed to ensure they are able to meet ongoing financial commitments.
Bids are limited to £ 1m for “new” providers, subcontractors to £ 2m and for “existing” vendors to £ 3m.
As already reported by FE Week, internships are excluded from this procurement. Only providers with an AEB grant allocation (e.g. universities) and those who are part of the current advertisement for internships will have access to internship funds in 2021/22.
Total AEB procurement could potentially reach £ 157m if extensions are granted in future years, but these are not guaranteed.
The results are to be communicated to the bidders by June 24th. The start date for the service is August 1, 2021.
This call for tenders is for the state budget only, not for decentralized combined authorities that carry out their own procurements.