Adult Education – A chance for charities to take part in commissioning

The Adult Education Budget for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is moving to the Combined Authority (CA) from next April. They have now started the process about how provision will be procured and if you want a slice of the pie don’t drink too much over New Year as you will need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed on 2nd January to start looking at making your application.

We here at CCVS are still getting our heads round how all this will work having attended a recent workshop, but fair to say it is not only us with the new CA admitting that they have been on a steep learning curve over the last eight months. There are a couple of sets of slides from the recent workshop that we will make available if we get them, and anyone who is thinking of bidding will need to get to grips with the CA skills strategy which is yet to be published, but more info on the priorities etc can be found here. http://cambridgeshirepeterborough-ca.gov.uk/about-us/programmes/adult-education-budget/

UPDATE. This page now contains copies of the slides from the presentations as well as a summary of the questions and answers from both workshops.

The timetable for this is, in the words of the CA

“We now intend to publish our SSQ and ITT on Wednesday 2 January 2019, following which will be a 38-day tendering period, closing on Friday 8 February 2019.

Evaluation of all SSQ’s and ITT’s will take place in February/March with contracts being awarded in early April.

Second Market Engagement Workshop – Early December 2018

Standard Selection Questionnaire and Invitation to Tender issued – Early January 2019

SSQ and ITT deadline submission date – Early February 2019

Evaluation of tender submission – February/March 2019

Contract award date – Early April 2019

Full AEB devolution – August 2019″

The budget for 2019-20 will be around £12.1 million. Of this around £9 million will go to the main provides, predominantly the big colleges. This leaves around £3 million for more local provision. That will be what this procurement round will be for. We think there may also be some small grants as a tender to run a programme was released but this is not guaranteed, we will keep you updated on this as we can.

What we gleaned from our workshop, this was what we heard and will need to be clarified if you want to bid.

  • There will be about £3 million available to tender for
  • There will be no minimum or maximum contract size (update there will be a £50K minimum now)
  • The process will involve formal online tendering
  • Although you will be bidding for 1 year this will decide the delivery partners for the next 3 years. If you don’t get in now there will not be another window for at least 3 years.
  • There will be an emphasis on accredited training, but if what you do is pre accreditation level or you use successful unaccredited training to move people on then there will be some weight given to this – but not lots from what we heard
  • The new team want to hear from you if you have any questions or comments. Importantly if you do apply and are unsure ring them do not make assumptions.
  • The process will be by the book, do exactly what they ask and do not try and simply bend the application to fit your work, it will not score well.
  • They are open to consortia bids, but please talk to them first. This is partly because they are putting a 20% cap on what can be outsourced.
  • There are likely to be separate priorities for Cambridge, Peterborough and the rural bits in-between.
  • The funding criteria and I assume cost per learner are not set by the CA, they are using national guidelines.
  • This will be quite an onerous application process so if you going to do it start early, there will be no extensions.
  • If you are successful you will be subject to the audit rules for this funding, this will include recording information on the Individual Learner Record (ILR), make sure you think about admin within any budgets.

One of the advantages of this move to the CA is that it may well have allowed additional money to be drawn into the area and this money will not be clawed back if there is a year 1 underspend. That said they are still looking at how they deal with possible underspends.

The other key advantage is that they appear to be starting from scratch, and the long tail of old providers have to join the party anew. This means that we should be able to address the fact that many local providers were not able to get a foot in the door. That said those who were at my event included people from Suffolk, from Boston, a national org based in Hemel Hempstead, from People Plus formally A4E and a number of other national providers.

My one concern was about the weight given to social value and the Social Value Act. I felt that the answer to my question on how this would be taken into account was vague with a reply that there was a question about it in the ITT but no idea on weighting. I have not been impressed about how any of the local commissioning has addressed social value, but we will have to wait to see if it would score extra to be a local provider using local people to deliver locally etc. We will be pushing the CA to give due consideration to the Social Value Act so that local non profit providers are given the extra makes for all the added value they bring.

We are not the experts on this but we are happy to have a conversation with anyone with any questions. That said the CA stressed how approachable they are so maybe go directly to them.

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