This is a reminder that cycle 44 (November 2022) is the last cycle where we would accept some submissions through the current funding model (CFM). Submissions from cycle 45 (January 2023) onwards will only be accepted via the proposed new funding model and no exceptions will be made, including successful Procedural Reviews.

As outlined in our guidance, any cycle 43 (September 2022) submissions via the current funding model (CFM) will only be accepted if the trailblazer group had already gathered 3 quotes ahead of a CFM submission in cycle 42 (July 2022) which was unexpectedly postponed i.e., the standard and/or EPA was delayed or needed further work. This also applies to cycle 44 (November 2022).

1. Apprenticeship funding bands

Each apprenticeship is allocated to one of 30 funding bands, which range from £1,500 to £27,000.
Each funding band sets the maximum amount of digital funds an employer (who pays the levy) can use towards an individual apprenticeship. The funding band also sets the maximum price that government will ‘co-invest’ towards an individual apprenticeship, where an employer does not pay the levy or has insufficient digital funds and is eligible for extra government support.

Information about the apprenticeship levy and spending apprenticeship funds is available on GOV.UK

Funding can be used to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment for apprentices. The funding band is not a funding rate and employers are expected to negotiate with training providers and end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) to agree an appropriate price. If the costs of training and assessment agreed between the employer and training provider are more than the funding band, employers need to pay the difference with other funds.

Details about which costs can and can’t be funded are set out in the DfE's apprenticeship funding rules

In a core and options apprenticeship, there are core duties and knowledge, skills and behaviours (KSBs) that are shared across the occupations. There are also duties, knowledge, and skills (and maybe behaviours) specific to each occupation (option). Each apprentice must attain the core KSB’s and attain the KSB’s in one of the options. In practice, this means there is some variance in the learner journey, including the training provided.

Core and option apprenticeships are allocated one funding band. Where options have different costs associated with them, the funding band will be assigned based on the lowest cost option to achieve the apprenticeship. Training for any options taken beyond the ‘minimum’ required would be outside the apprenticeship, and employers will need to pay the difference.

2. The proposed funding band allocation model

As with the current funding band model, we make a funding band recommendation to the Secretary of State for Education, who makes the final decision on the funding band for an apprenticeship.

Trailblazer groups of employers that are representative of their occupations, are best placed to submit the information that is required.

To make a funding band recommendation using the proposed funding band model, we use information and evidence provided by you alongside rates generated by our independent evidence base.

Your product manager (PM) can lead a funding band workshop on the PFM.

3. Stability mechanism

A revision to an occupational standard or end-point assessment (EPA) plan may lead us to review the funding band - as set out in our revisions process.

Where the proposed funding model (PFM) is being used for changes to an apprenticeship, a stability mechanism will apply. It means that funding band recommendations will not be reduced or increased by more than two funding bands.

This is to avoid significant funding band changes for apprenticeships that are being revised. However, the stability mechanism will not be applied to revised apprenticeships that meet the criteria of one or more of the categories in the table at the bottom of our proposed funding band model page.

We have a duty to ensure market stability and ensure a value for money approach is taken in making funding band recommendations. The stability mechanism has also been introduced at the request of the Department for Education (DfE) to mitigate the risk of significant and sudden changes to funding.


4. Allocating a funding band

Step 1: IfATE sends initial funding information to trailblazer group 

For a new apprenticeship, we provide you with information about the funding bands assigned to apprenticeships that share similar characteristics for example, the same route, similar level, and duration. This is to give you an overview of typical levels of funding. We do not use these characteristics when recommending a funding band.

Step 2: IfATE gives trailblazer group an estimate of salary costs; trailblazer group may provide salary information and evidence 

A typical training delivery salary cost is used in the PFM. 

We provide you with an estimate of typical training delivery salary costs. It includes gross salary and our provider ‘on-costs’ rate to contribute towards national insurance and pension contributions.

Our estimates are informed by:

If you believe our estimate of typical training delivery salary costs needs adjusting for your apprenticeship, you should submit additional evidence. You must submit evidence to meet the requirements of two of the evidence categories below:

Category one:

  • independent sector evidence of typical training delivery salary costs, for example a sector body report, economic report, academic paper etc

Category two:

a. Two paid invoices for tutor services relevant to the occupation from different training providers, from the last 12 months.

b. Anonymised PAYE data for gross salary paid to two individual occupationally relevant tutors from different training providers, from the last 12 months. 

c. One paid invoice for tutor services relevant to the occupation, and anonymised PAYE data for gross salary for one occupationally relevant tutor. Each piece of evidence should come from a different training organisation, from the last 12 months 

Category three (only if you can reasonably demonstrate why evidence category one cannot be met):

  • wage information from three regions of England: in the form of advertised vacancies for the occupation from the last 6 months

Where evidence of typical salary costs to meet the required evidence categories does not exist, for example for niche or new occupations, and where genuine reasonable effort has not discovered all the required evidence, you should talk to us so that we can look at how a funding band recommendation can be made using the known available evidence.

Step 3: Trailblazer group collates and submits training information, evidence, and EPA quote 

You need to provide us with:

  • expected group sizes for the apprenticeship’s training 
  • proportions of directed versus self-directed (independent) learning for the apprenticeship’s training, including methods of directed training delivery
  • information and evidence about eligible consumable costs, as detailed in the ESFA apprenticeship funding rules, needed to deliver the apprenticeship’s training 
  • information and evidence about the fee(s) for any qualification(s) mandated in the apprenticeship’s occupational standard
  • an EPAO quote(s) based on the apprenticeship’s end-point assessment (EPA) plan

This EPA quote(s) can be from any EPAO that could potentially deliver the end point assessment. They do not have to be an organisation currently listed on the Register of end-point assessment organisations (RoEPAO).  You must use the EPAO quote form, if it is not possible to get a quote, please discuss this with your PM.

To gather this information, you may wish to work with or seek advice from stakeholders for example, training providers. Your PM can provide advice on ways to gather the information we require. 

You, the trailblazer group, must decide the final set of information you submit to us. This training and assessment delivery information and evidence should be based on what you believe to be an accurate reflection of current high quality training delivery. 

The information you provide will be used by us during the funding band allocation, and review and approval process. This may include sharing this information with the Secretary of State (or their delegate) to support them in their decision making when they consider our funding band recommendation. 

The information may also be used by us to develop and test potential new processes or improvements to our existing processes. We may use the information to inform future fixed rates or other estimates or calculations which feature as part of the funding band allocation process. 

We also compile information about apprenticeship training and assessment costs. We plan to share findings regularly to increase understanding of apprenticeship costs and assist DfE with monitoring the affordability of apprenticeships

By submitting information, either via the apprenticeship builder, other funding forms, or to your PM, you agree to us using it for these purposes. If you do not agree to the information being used in this way you should raise this with your PM prior to submission.

Organisations are reminded to ensure that any evidence provided is fully anonymised and redacted to ensure it only includes the information required by IfATE to make a funding band recommendation. Any information received in error will be handled in line with our published privacy policy.

Step 4: IfATE moderates and verifies the training delivery information and evidence supplied 

We moderate your funding information and evidence against the ESFA’s apprenticeship funding rules. This moderation will include the removal of all ineligible costs. If the information and evidence supplied isn’t sufficient, we will seek clarification, information, or further evidence from you.

We consider submitted information and evidence related to typical eligible costs against independent verification points to ensure value for money. These verification points may include:

Advice from the IfATE’s route panel(s)

The relevant route panel(s), who are independent from the apprenticeship development process, may be asked to provide their view on the typical training delivery of the occupational standard.

The route panel(s) (RP) may suggest additional sources of evidence to consider, as part of the funding band recommendation process, and their view on the expected trainer or tutor salary, consumables, and mandatory qualification costs. 

Advice from a peer reviewer – an independent third party

We may arrange for a peer reviewer to provide expert comment on the training costs associated with your apprenticeship. The peer reviewer is chosen for their experience of the occupation or sector in which the occupation is found. You and the RP will receive a summary of their comments. 

In some cases, we will not seek advice from a peer reviewer. For example, where we already have adequate information to make a recommendation or where there is not a suitable peer reviewer.

Mandatory qualification price lists

We will, if necessary, adjust the qualification costs for a mandatory qualification(s) so that it captures the registration, certification and examination costs. The costs will be reviewed in line with:

  • publicly funded rates 
  • market prices of RoATP approved organisations 

This is to ensure value for money. 

Checking trailblazer group submitted salary evidence

We will use the lowest verified typical training delivery salary cost identified. If you have submitted typical training delivery salary cost evidence, we will consider whether it meets the evidence requirements listed in step 2. Where we verify that the evidence submitted points to a cost lower than our best estimate it could impact on our recommendation. 

If the submitted evidence results in an adjustment to our best estimate of typical salary costs we will apply our provider ‘on-costs’ rate to this adjustment. 

We may revise down the costs you have supplied based on our moderation and verification of your information and evidence. Where cost information submitted by trailblazer groups is insufficiently evidenced it could impact our recommendation. Equally, where evidence suggests that the cost information submitted to us may not be typical or, more likely than not is or may be inaccurate, it could also impact our recommendation.

As part of our moderation and verification process, we may ask you provide additional evidence or clarification. 

Step 5: IfATE moderates the end-point assessment quote(s) supplied

We moderate your EPA quote(s) against the ESFA’s apprenticeship funding rules.

We assume that any quotes provided are for high-quality EPA. On this basis, we will use the lowest moderated EPA quote in the funding model. This is to ensure value for money.

As part of our moderation process, we may ask you to provide additional evidence or clarification. 

Step 6: IfATE uses independent evidence base to generate rates

We generate rates for:

  • non-contact time teaching costs
  • formative assessment
  • mandatory qualification estimate (degree apprenticeships only)
  • programme management, governance, and administration
  • initial assessment

IFF ‘Costs of delivering apprenticeship standards’ has informed the data used to generate rates in the PFM.

Step 7: IfATE explains evidence base that will be used in the funding model; trailblazer group may supply further information or evidence

We provide you with:

  • a summary of any peer review and route panel feedback received to this point and considered as part of our funding band allocation process
  • the typical costs that we will plan to use to make a funding band recommendation and the evidence base for these costs
  • the likely impact of the PFM stability mechanism, where it applies
  • the final moderated figure of your EPAO quote(s)

You will be invited to submit any additional evidence before we make a funding band recommendation. You must inform us of your intention to submit additional evidence within 10 working days. You will then have a further 10 working days to submit this additional evidence. We may agree to allow you additional time if you request it. 

In the absence of the information being provided within our prescribed timeframe we will proceed to making a funding band recommendation using the typical costs identified by IfATE.

Step 8: IfATE calculates the proposed funding band recommendation using the proposed funding band model

We calculate the proposed funding band recommendation.

This is done by combining the values for: training, consumables, formative assessment, EPA, mandatory qualification(s), and programme management, governance, and administration; and applying an uplift of 9%. The 9% uplift reflects the eligible cost margin and is applied to all funding band calculations, as detailed within our model schematic

Step 9: IfATE compliance board review and approves funding band recommendation, taking advice from route panel(s)

The proposed funding band recommendation and its evidence base, as outlined above, is provided to the relevant RP. RP do not approve funding band recommendations. They consider the proposed funding band recommendation and provide advice to the IfATE’s compliance board (CB).

The proposed funding band recommendation and route panel advice are then submitted to the IfATE’s CB, a sub-committee of IfATE’s board, for approval.  CB may approve the proposed funding band, or where they require more information, defer it for consideration at a future meeting, or ask you to re-submit. We will let you know when this happens and whether we require you to submit additional information.  

We will advise you of our funding band recommendation, once it has been agreed by our CB. 

Step 10: The Secretary of State makes the funding band decision

The Secretary of State for Education, or their delegate, makes the final decision on the funding band for apprenticeships. 

You can provide additional contextual trailblazer information (ACTI) for the Secretary of State to consider, alongside our funding band recommendation. The submission of an ACTI is optional.

We will produce a sector report to assist the Secretary of State. It will include publicly available information about the occupation, sector, and published funding bands. Where the apprenticeship is a revision, it will also include existing programme delivery and completion data. 

The funding band recommendation, sector report and ACTI where produced are submitted to the Secretary of State. They will make a funding band decision. They may set a different funding band to our recommendation.

5. Completing the pilot trailblazer data form

You must submit your typical training delivery information and evidence using our trailblazer data capture form.

We recommend that you consider typical training delivery, and the information and evidence you will need to submit, as you develop your occupational standard.

Your PM can provide further guidance on completing the form.

The completed trailblazer data capture form and EPA quote should be submitted at the same time as your occupational standard and EPA plan.

Once a change request is confirmed by us you should commence work on the funding data and evidence you wish to submit. This work should start at least 8 weeks before submission deadline.

Subject to the conditions of the change request it may not always be required to submit your occupational standard and EPA alongside the completed trailblazer data capture form.

6. Challenging a funding band recommendation

We will consider all the evidence you provide when we make our funding band recommendation and engage with trailblazer groups as necessary throughout our moderation and verification. Where submitted evidence does not meet our requirements we will explain this to you and, if necessary, you may be invited to submit additional or alternative evidence. We will advise you of our funding band recommendation, once the CB approves the funding band recommendation.

When you are notified of our funding band recommendation you will have two choices.

1. You may agree that the funding band recommendation can proceed to be considered by the Secretary of State. As indicated above you will have opportunity to submit additional trailblazer contextual information. If you do submit further information, it will be sent to the Secretary of State for consideration alongside our funding band recommendation and a sector report. The Secretary of State will then make a funding band decision.

2. If you feel as though a material procedural error or other material irregularity may have occurred as part of our funding band allocation process, you may wish to consider seeking procedural review. If so, you must notify the IfATE within 10 working days of our decision that you intend to seek a procedural review

If you do seek procedural review, the funding band recommendation will not go to the Secretary of State (or their delegate) for a decision until the procedural review has concluded (and, where a procedural review is granted, only after a fresh decision is made). You will have the opportunity to submit additional trailblazer contextual information when it does get forwarded to the Secretary of State for a decision

7. Funding bands when you revise your occupational standard or EPA plan

After an apprenticeship is approved for delivery, it might be necessary to revise, adjust, or correct the occupational standard or the EPA plan. This usually does not happen until the apprenticeship has been in delivery for some time. Depending on what those changes are, we might need to make a new funding band recommendation. You should discuss any changes with your PM.

When we make a new funding band recommendation for an existing apprenticeship we will use the same approach we do when setting a funding band for a new apprenticeship. 

It is important to note that if a new funding band recommendation is made, the funding could be lower, the same, or higher than the current funding band assigned to the apprenticeship. If we recommend a new funding band, it will be based on the same 30-band structure used in all funding band recommendations. 

A new funding band recommendation will typically be made if there is:

  • a change of duration of six months or more
  • a mandatory qualification is added or removed
  • a change of level in the apprenticeship
  • the apprenticeship is split into more than one standard
  • more than one apprenticeship is merged to make a new, combined apprenticeship 
  • a change in entry requirements

Typically, a new funding band recommendation will not be made if there is only:

  • a change to the list of Awarding Organisations offering mandatory qualification(s)
  • a change to external quality assurance arrangements
  • a change to EPA plans that do not affect how the EPA is conducted
  • an editorial change to improve clarity, or aid understanding
  • amendments to the title of the apprenticeship, or title of any mandatory qualifications

We may or may not need to make a new funding band recommendation when there is:

  • an addition or removal of an option in a core and option apprenticeship
  • an addition, removal or change to the knowledge, skills and behaviours or duties

Further information about submitting revisions.

8. Funding band allocation forms

EPAO quote form

For guidance, an example of a completed EPAO quote form can be found in the second sheet within the excel document.

9. Resources


Last updated 12 Jan 2023