From the 2019/20 academic year, the West of England Combined Authority will take responsibility for the Adult Education Budget (AEB) and how it is delivered.
AEB is used to prepare adults over the age of 19 with the skills and qualifications needed for life, work, apprenticeships and further learning. Traditionally, this funding has come from central government with local adult education providers bidding for money on an annual basis. Central government has set out how the budget is spent based on national needs and requirements. Responsibility for the budget will transfer to WECA from the start of the 2019/20 academic year.
WECA will be responsible for funding adult education for residents of Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire. Devolution of this budget will help WECA to address the skills challenges that affect our residents and businesses, supporting inclusive economic growth.
By taking responsibility for the Adult Education Budget, WECA will be able to fund providers to deliver courses tailored to meet the needs of our specific region; and in doing so, provide all residents with the opportunity to develop their talents and prosper. We will deliver this by working in partnership with adult learners, businesses, and education providers to ensure we achieve positive results – supporting our residents and businesses to reach their potential and prosper.
Benefits of the devolution of the budget will also include:
Creating more learning opportunities
- National funding rules sometimes exclude some learners from accessing the courses they need. By setting the funding rules in the region, we can remove barriers to learning and create more opportunities for all residents.
Using all the budget in the West of England
- Every year around 2-3% of the AEB is not spent, and this money is returned to central government. From 2019/20, we will be able to keep that money in the region, carrying it forward to the next year to fund more learners.
Funding courses on a longer-term basis
- Providers often have to apply for funding on an annual basis. WECA wants to ensure that we have longer-term sustainable courses. Funding courses over a number of years could reduce provider costs whilst giving more security to learners.
WECA is keen to engage with skills providers and businesses as it develops plans for the AEB. If you would like to find out more, and get involved, please email email@example.com.