To consider the report of the Director of Policy and Strategic Commissioning and the Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment, Apprenticeships and Skills.
The LCR Combined Authority considered a report of the Director of Policy and Strategic Commissioning and the Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment, Apprenticeships and Skills which provided an update on the progress relating to the devolution of the Adult Education Budget to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority from 1 August 2019 for the academic year 2019/20 onwards.
Sue Jarvis, Project Director – Adult Education Budget Transition, informed Members that from the 1 August 2019 the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority would take responsibility for the devolved Adult Education Budget of £51,380.231 for the academic year 2019/20.
Members were advised that the funding allocation would be distributed to those Further Education Colleges, Local Authorities and Independent Training providers who delivered adult community learning. The devolution of the Adult Education Budget enabled the Combined Authority to tailor the delivery to the need of its residents. It also provided an opportunity for flexibility and innovation which included increasing the threshold salary for learners to the Real Living Wage. Furthermore, the testing of outcome payments linked to work experience and job outcomes from sector based work academics during 2019-20 would be undertaken to stimulate a market response.
Members were further informed that through the devolution of the Adult Education Budget, three test and learn areas would be piloted in 2019/20, specifically to improve the life chances of residents. The findings from these pilots would also be used to inform future delivery for English for speakers of other languages (11 pilots), digital skills (10 pilots) and English and maths (10 pilots).
In conclusion, Members were informed that the Combined Authority had committed funding to avoid any unintended consequences which may arise as a result of the devolution of the Adult Education Budget. Furthermore, the proposed approach to the distribution of the funding would ensure that learning provision would remain fit for purpose and promoting a proactive approach to changing behaviours.
Metro Mayor S Rotheram advised Members that the wording in relation to recommendation E be amended, so that after the word appendix two, ‘subject to due diligence. Should due diligence render any bid unsuitable funding will be offered to the next ranked highest bidder,’ be inserted. Members were in agreement to this amendment being incorporated into recommendation E.
Councillor L Robertson-Collins, Deputy Portfolio Holder: Education, Employment, Apprenticeships and Skills, noted that the Adult Education Budget allocation was £51.3m for 2019/20, and sought clarity on whether the City Region was getting the level of Adult Education funding it needed?
Sue Jarvis, advised Members that the allocation was slightly below the £52million which had been anticipated and in response to this a letter had been sent to the Secretary of State to welcome any new funding which may become available. Members were further advised that the funding was based on a national formula calculation which was based on the number of residents who accessed adult learning during 2017/18. The Combined Authority was working with the Department for Education to make the case that additional funds should be allocated to the national pot to increase the funding available for future years.
Mayor J Anderson OBE sought clarity on what arrangements would be put in place to performance manage colleges and training providers. Sue Jarvis advised Members that there would be a programme of performance management to monitor the budget. However, the programme would reflect the current national requirements with a number of additional performance measures. These additional measures included an area and locality assessment, monthly dashboards, diversity measurers and ensuring compliance and risk management of public funds. Performance management reports relating to the Adult Education Budget would be brought to the LCR Combined Authority at appropriate intervals.
Metro Mayor S Rotheram sought clarity on how the Combined Authority would be re-assured that the learning providers were delivering in accordance with the programme requirements. Sue Jarvis informed Members that there was provision to claw back funding in year if the provider was not fulfilling its training obligations.
Councillor L Robertson Collins, enquired about how the Combined Authority would better understand what learning worked and how this would ensure the adult skills system worked better for local residents and employers. Sue Jarvis advised the LCR Combined Authority that Test and Learn pilots would be introduced. The aim of the pilots would be explore innovative service delivery models and overcome barriers to learning. The pilots would also enable some key issues to be addressed, such as mental health by providing Mental Health First Aid training to providers.
RESOLVED – That:-
(i) the grant allocation of £51,380.231 from the Department for Education in respect of the devolved Adult Education Budget for the period 1 August 2019 to 31 July 2020 be accepted;
(ii) the methodology applied by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to calculate the Adult Education Budget grant funding allocations for the academic year 2019/20 be noted;
(iii) the indicative grant funding allocations to local General Further Education Colleges and Local Authority providers in the Liverpool City Region, as summarised in Appendix One be approved;
(iv) authority be delegated to the Combined Authority Treasurer to agree any minor changes with those organisations identified in Appendix One to their funding that may arise in the course of discussions between each institution/authority and the Combined Authority;
(v) the award of contracts by the Combined Authority to Providers, as summarised in Appendix Two, subject to due diligence be approved. Should due diligence render any bid unsuitable funding would be offered to the next ranked highest bidder;
(vi) authority be delegated to the Combined Authority Treasurer and Monitoring Officer to conclude the contract award process;
(vii) circa £0.5m funding be allocated to enable cross border learner delivery flows to continue between the devolved areas of Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester in 2019/20 (see section 4);
(viii) authority be delegated to the Director of Policy and Strategic Commissioning, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment, Apprenticeships and Skills, to plan for and minimise the impact of any issues arising in relation to Liverpool City Region learners who enrol with providers that do not have funding arrangements with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority;
(ix) the investment options identified for transitional funding (see section 5) be agreed and authority be delegated to the Director of Policy and Strategic Commissioning, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment, Apprenticeships and Skills to take forward, in accordance with the Adult Education Budget Assurance Framework; and
(x) progress updates be provided to future meetings of the Combined Authority.
Metro Mayor S Rotheram reported that Sue Jarvis would soon be leaving the Combined Authority. The Metro Mayor paid tribute to the city region work Sue had undertaken which included the City Employment Strategy, Multi Area Agreement and the City Region Deal. He also acknowledged Sue’s significant involvement in the Review of Strategic Governance in 2013 and in supporting the establishment of the Combined Authority in 2015, along with her appointment as Statutory Scrutiny Officer during 2017-18. He paid tribute to her valued contribution and thanked her for her drive and professionalism.
Members passed on their thanks and wished Sue good luck and best wishes in her new job.