Funding frequently asked questions

Institute processes

  • Why is my funding band lower than the quotes that were provided?
    • Provider quotes are just one of the data points considered by us when making recommendations on funding bands. We also consider the funding bands of comparable apprenticeship standards, market rates for training provision, the affordability of the apprenticeship programme and any relevant wider information about features of training in a particular sector(s).
    • We have set out a process for allocating funding bands, which includes more detail on the information we consider.
  • What weighting do you give to each of the published variables?
  • What role do route panels play in reaching funding band decisions?
    • For each funding band, Institute officials present a recommendation to the relevant route panel(s). The panel(s) considers the recommendation using their own expertise and knowledge. The recommendation is then presented to the Approval and Funding Committee (a sub-committee of the Institute’s Board) for agreement. This recommendation is then presented to the Secretary of State for Education for a decision.
  • Is the funding band designed to cover the full cost of the training?
    • The funding band is the maximum amount that the Government will contribute towards the eligible costs of off-the-job training, progress reviews, end-point assessment, and other eligible costs.
    • The funding band maximum is not a funding rate. Employers should negotiate with training providers and end-point assessment organisations (EPAOs) to agree a suitable price. If the costs of training and assessment go over the funding band maximum, employers will need to pay the difference with other funds.
    • There may be other costs that a training provider incurs which are not eligible for public funding which are defined by the ESFA in their funding rules.
  • Why do you compare our occupational standard to other published apprenticeship standards?
    • Comparison with similar apprenticeship standards is Step 3 of the funding band allocation process.
    • If trailblazer groups and/or training providers have identified Institute-approved apprenticeship standards similar to the apprenticeship standard under consideration, these comparisons are reviewed first. The funding team then identifies any other apprenticeship standards with similar characteristics including the level and duration, or the knowledge, skills and behaviours required.
    • Comparisons may not always be obvious by name alone. Comparisons are not confined to those within the same occupational route – we consider the nature and form of the training, as well as the sector.
  • Why do you only compare our apprenticeship standard against those with Institute approved funding bands, not the ESFA approved ones (pre-April 2017)?
    • We only compare apprenticeship standards with others approved by us. This is because we want to ensure consistency across funding bands using our methodology. Older apprenticeship standards were assigned funding bands under a different process and using the old 15-band structure.  
  • How do you take account of ‘affordability’?
    • The Department for Education’s March 2019-2020 Strategic Guidance to the Institute [link] sets out that we must take account of affordability in making recommendations on funding. In this, the Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills writes “We expect the Institute to consider the wider affordability of the apprenticeships programme when making funding band recommendations”.
  • But what does that mean in practice?
    • Consideration of affordability forms Step 4 of the decision flowchart.
    • We maintain a programme level model that seeks to apportion the available budget for apprenticeships in a fair and consistent manner. The model considers the number of apprenticeship starts, the distribution of these starts across the occupational map and the particular characteristics of individual standards. 
    • The model provides one data point for each apprenticeship that could be higher or lower than individual recommendations. The funding band may be adjusted as a result of the affordability model, but only if the recommendation is significantly different from this data point.
    • The Department for Education has responsibility for the overall apprenticeship programme budget. We share our affordability data for each individual apprenticeship standard with the Department to enable them to consider the impact on the overall programme.

Appeals

  • Where can I find guidance for how to make an appeal against a funding band recommendation?
    • The appeal procedure will be updated in June 2019. Details of the grounds upon which a funding band decision can be appealed.
  • Should I request an appeal? How do I know you have taken all my evidence into account?
    • The funding team reviews all evidence provided by trailblazer groups in making a funding band recommendation.
    • The appeal procedure sets out the grounds upon which a funding band can be appealed. The appeal procedure can be found here:
    • An appeal may be requested on the grounds of material procedural error or other material irregularity. The procedural error or other irregularity referred to must be of sufficient materiality as to be capable of giving rise to a different decision or outcome on reconsideration. Examples of errors or irregularities include: failing to comply with published procedures; failing to take account of relevant information or taking account of irrelevant information; making a decision based on a clear error; or the Institute exceeding its powers.
  • If I request an appeal, what does this mean in terms of sending my funding band recommendation to the Minster?
    • The appeal procedure sets out the timeframe for submitting a review. If the appeal is accepted as in scope, the appeal will be considered by the Institute. In such cases, the funding band recommendation will not go to the Minister until the appeal is concluded (and, where an appeal is upheld, only after a fresh decision is made).

Training Provider and EPAO Quotes

  • On what basis do you moderate the quotes?
    • All quotes are moderated against the ESFA funding rules found here. Any ineligible costs will be excluded.
    • Costs are removed or adjusted in line with ESFA funding rules and guidance.
    • We assume that the trailblazer group is content that all quotes submitted are for high quality training and assessment.
  • You ask us to ‘itemise costs’ – what do you mean by this?
    • Any cost above £100 which contains two or more sub-costs must be broken down into its constituent parts. For example a cost of £200 for Administration and Quality Assurance should be broken down into:
      • Administration - £100
      • Quality Assurance - £100.
  • What if I can only get two training provider quotes?
    • All trailblazer groups should endeavour to provide us with at least three fully itemised training provider quotes to inform the funding band recommendation. Please speak to your Relationship Manager if this isn’t possible for your apprenticeship standard.
  • Can all my training provider quotes be from the same type of institution?
    • However, in order to allow for the most accurate funding band allocation, trailblazer groups are encouraged to provide quotes from a range of training providers where that reflects the likely training provider market. For example Further Education colleges, universities and independent training providers.
  • We don’t have any EPAOs who are prepared to quote, what should we do?
    • If you are unable to secure a quote from an EPAO provider, an EPA quote from a training provider will be accepted.
  • My apprenticeship standard is a core and options , do I have to get training provider quotes for all the options?
    • It is preferable if you can acquire quotes that reflect the cost of delivering all options within an apprenticeship standard.
  • How should we factor in equipment and infrastructure costs?
    • Capital purchases including lease agreements and maintenance of capital purchases are ineligible costs as stated in the ESFA funding rules and guidance.

Training provider quote forms

  • I don’t know the cost of X. What should I do?
    • We realise that you are providing indicative costs at an early stage. It would be helpful to include your best estimate of all costs.
  • Do I have to put something in every box on the template?
    • No, please only complete relevant fields. However, EPA and overall expected off-the-job training cost fields are mandatory.
    • Please also itemise all separate costs above £100.
  • I have developed my own template as I have other information I wish to include - can I use it?
    • No, please use the quote form supplied by us – this has been developed to capture the information that we need.
    • Other important information can be supplied in a separate document alongside the our quote forms.

Other questions

  • What should I do if my question is not answered here?
    • If you cannot find the answer to your question here, please contact your Relationship Manager in the first instance.