AELP statement concerning legal advice in respect of provider relief

 

The Board of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers met on Tuesday and, as part of the agenda, considered the contents of the letter dated 17 April 2020 sent by the Apprenticeships and Skills Minister to all MPs in England on the Department for Education’s intention to provide support for apprenticeships and adult education.

The minister’s letter made it clear that the proposed support would only be available to providers in respect of apprenticeships offered by non-levy paying employers where providers hold ‘a direct contract’ with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). It specifically states that support will not “apply in relation to apprenticeships funded from employer digital accounts where the contractual relationship is between the employer and the provider”, i.e. in respect of apprenticeships offered by levy paying employers. In AELP’s view, this statement ignores the fact that the levy is a tax as defined by the Finance Act 2016.

Taking into account legal advice already sought by individual AELP members, the Board unanimously agreed that levy funded providers also have a direct contract with the ESFA and so the DfE’s grounds for excluding relief for them were not justified. Therefore the Board has instructed AELP’s secretariat to immediately seek formal legal advice on whether the Department is still failing to comply with the Cabinet Office guidance to which the minister’s letter refers.

 

Notes:

Link to Cabinet Office Procurement Policy Note 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/procurement-policy-note-0220-supplier-relief-due-to-covid-19

Link to Apprenticeship funding: legal agreement for training providers (updated 17 April 2020): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-funding-legal-agreement-for-training-providers

Link to Part 6 of the Finance Act 2016 ‘Apprenticeship Levy’: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/24/part/6

 

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