Relief scheme responds to joint feedback from SELEP and national LEP Network for training providers during the COVID-19 crisis
Training providers have been able to apply to a new relief scheme (which closed on 3rd May) to provide some of the funding they need to maintain a strong skills sector supply chain during this challenging time.
SELEP Skills Lead, Louise Aitken worked with the national LEP Network – of which SELEP Chair Christian Brodie is a Board member, also representing the Southern cluster of LEPs – to write to Secretary of State Gavin Williamson in mid-April on behalf of England’s 38 LEPs. In the letter, the Board urged the Department for Education (DfE) to provide funding that had already been allocated from the 2020/21 budget to apprenticeship and skills providers, after the DfE said it could no longer guarantee payment.
In its letter, the LEP Network Board noted that this decision could potentially cause FE colleges and training providers to go out of business, which could in turn result in the decimation of apprenticeships and massively impact the skills sector supply chain. This would, the Board said, severely hinder recovery efforts, especially in essential areas such as logistics and care due to workers in these industries requiring mandatory ‘licence to practise’ training.
Urging the DfE to reinstate the already allocated apprenticeship budget, the LEP Network Board noted that the payments should be sufficient in covering the current situation and likely delays to future income, which would also reduce pressure on the Treasury’s furlough scheme.
“This would enable the skills supply chain to maintain provision through these challenging times and be in a strong position to deal with the upturn in demand following the recovery after lock-down and be prepared for the new academic year in September 2020,” the letter stated.
In response to this and feedback from organisations such as the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) has launched the post-16 provider relief scheme. This is aimed at retaining capacity within the apprenticeships and adult education sector to deliver the skills that will be urgently needed to support the recovery of the economy as we move away from lockdown. The ESFA said it will support training providers to maintain delivery and support for existing learners and employers, as well as allowing new learners to enrol.
The relief scheme will apply to activity undertaken in April, May and June, and will also be available for training providers who have had to furlough staff to date, providing the staff are taken off furlough to continue providing skills training. The ESFA expects to be able to notify all applicants by 12th May.
In a further bid to help the nation improve their digital skills while staying at home, a new online learning platform has been launched by the government. Free courses are available through a new online platform called The Skills Toolkit, available here. The new platform gives people access to free, high-quality digital and numeracy courses to help build up their skills, progress in work and boost their job prospects.
SELEP Chair Christian Brodie said:
“I, along with my fellow LEP Network Board members, am incredibly pleased that our efforts have paid off, and training providers can access funding to continue delivering this crucial work. This was identified as a key issue in my own LEP and we have been instrumental in communicating the need for this policy change in our letter to government.
“As we move out of lockdown into this new socially-distanced economy, we will need the new generation of skilled workers more than ever – particularly in essential fields such as care and logistics. It is imperative that our colleges and training providers are able to deliver the highly skilled workforce that is – as it has become so clear over the recent weeks – absolutely critical to the running of our country.”
SELEP Skills Lead Louise Aitken said:
“It’s been great to work with the national LEP Network in highlighting to government current challenges faced by our training providers, communicated by our local networks. Our providers and colleges will be key to the recovery stage so it’s vital that they are supported.
“To that end, we were very pleased to see the announcement of the provider relief scheme last week and we’ll continue to work with our providers to understand and highlight any remaining challenges and barriers, such as arrangements for sub-contractors and levy funded provision.”
About the South East LEP
The South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) is a genuine partnership for growth between business, government and education. We put the role of enterprise – as the driving motor of the economy – at the heart of everything we do; and we work in partnership with central government and its key agencies to pursue and attract major investment into the South East to deliver significant economic growth.
One of 38 LEPs established by the government, our role is to forge a partnership which properly understands the economic challenges and opportunities of our area, encourage an environment which delivers prosperity and to be directly accountable to local people and local businesses. LEPs decide what the priorities should be for investment in roads, buildings, and facilities in the area as part of an integrated approach to growth and infrastructure delivery.
We represent the largest LEP area in England outside London, in terms of population and economic output, and cover an area encompassing the local authority areas of East Sussex, Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. Head to southeastlep.com to find out more.
About the LEP Network
The LEP Network Board is made up of the leaders of the eight regional LEP areas shown below, and aims to ensure that the LEP Network supports greater collaboration between LEPs and build closer links with government, external partners and stakeholders, as they continue to drive local economic growth and support economic recovery through the challenges of COVID-19.
|Supra Regional Geography||Grouping and number of LEPs||Nominated Chair|
|Northern Powerhouse 11||Cheshire and Warrington; Cumbria; Humber; Lancashire; Leeds; Liverpool; Manchester; North East; Sheffield; Tees Valley; York and North Yorkshire||Roger Marsh OBE DL|
|West Midlands||Black Country; Coventry and Warwickshire; Greater Birmingham and Solihull; Stoke and Staffs; The Marches; Worcestershire.||Tim Pile|
|East Midlands||D2N2, Greater Lincolnshire; Leicester.||Elizabeth Fagan CBE|
|Southern||Coast to Capital; Enterprise M3; Hertfordshire; Solent; South East; Thames Valley Berkshire.||Chris Brodie|
|Ox-Cam Arc||Bucks; Cambridge and Peterborough; New Anglia; Oxfordshire; South East Midlands.||Jeremy Long|
|London||LEAP (Local Enterprise Partnership for London)||Professor Angus Knowles-Cutler|
|Western Gateway||Gfirst; West of England; Swindon and Wiltshire.||Dr Diane Savory OBE|
|Great South West||Cornwall & The Isles of Scilly; Dorset; Heart of the South West.||Jim Stewart|
Communications Officer, South East LEP
Tel: 03330 136839