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What is being proposed?
As part of the West Yorkshire devolution deal that council leaders agreed with the Government in March 2020 (visit www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/about-us/devolution/ for more information), it is proposed that the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will have control of approximately £63 million of funding for adult skills and education (known as the Adult Education Budget) per year. The proposals mean that local councillors and the proposed West Yorkshire Mayor would determine how the funding is allocated to meet local skills and economic priorities. Currently this funding is controlled by central government via the Department for Education (DfE) and the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).
The Combined Authority is working with the DfE and ESFA to prepare for devolution of the Adult Education Budget (AEB) from 1 August 2021, subject to satisfying the DfE’s conditions to show we are ready, and the devolution deal being agreed.
We have developed an AEB Strategy with strategic input from our Employment and Skills Panel, (click here for details of this panel) which will shape how the AEB is spent. We are consulting on this draft AEB Strategy.
What is the AEB?
The Adult Education Budget (AEB) aims to support adults aged 19+ with the learning they need to prepare them for work, an apprenticeship, or further training. The Combined Authority will be responsible for the budget that supports learners in West Yorkshire. The budget covers elements of adult education in colleges, councils, private training providers and community groups for those aged 19 years and above.
It does not cover apprenticeships, traineeship funding or Higher Education.
What is devolution?
Devolution is about taking decisions as near as possible to where they will have an impact. As an example, it makes most sense for the Government in London to take decisions about defense, but your local council will decide when your bins will be emptied. Now, a large proportion of decisions about what happens in Yorkshire are taken by the Government and its departments. Through a process known as ‘devolution deals’ the Government is giving areas more powers to make their own decisions on issues such as transport, skills and support for business.
If you are interested in knowing more about the West Yorkshire devolution deal and consultation, please click here to visit our West Yorkshire Devolution webpage.
What is the West Yorkshire Combined Authority?
The Combined Authority works in partnership with local councils and businesses to ensure that everyone in our region benefits from a strong, successful economy and a modern, accessible transport network. Its core partners are the local authorities of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds, Wakefield, and the City of York, plus the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
If the West Yorkshire devolution deal is agreed and implemented, the Combined Authority will become a mayoral combined authority. This means it will have new responsibilities, funding and powers including a directly elected Mayor for West Yorkshire. To find out more visit: www.westyorks-ca.gov.uk
What does this mean for AEB?
Devolution of the AEB is a key element of the West Yorkshire devolution deal, and if this deal is agreed the Combined Authority would have responsibility for the AEB for West Yorkshire.
Subject to the West Yorkshire devolution deal being agreed and implemented, the Combined Authority aims to be ready to begin to administer the devolved Adult Education Budget from 1 August 2021 onwards. We intend to begin commissioning AEB delivery in October 2020, and the draft AEB Strategy sets out some of the ways in which we would like to improve the impact the funding makes in our area.
What happens in the academic year 2020/21?
For the academic year 2020/2021 AEB funding for residents in West Yorkshire will continue to be administered by the ESFA.
What are the expected benefits for devolving the AEB?
Devolution will provide the Combined Authority with greater freedoms, flexibility, and the opportunity to develop a more responsive skills system that meets the needs of local people, businesses and the region’s economy. Over the next year the Combined Authority will, in commissioning adult training and education, be taking the opportunity to innovate and collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure that the devolved AEB better meets the skills needs of West Yorkshire, its businesses and its residents.
Will my comments be considered, or have decisions already been made?
From 25 May to 10 July 2020 we are running a public consultation and inviting comments and questions from the public and key organisations. Your comments will help inform the draft AEB Strategy, which will be revised in August based on the response to this consultation. The consultation provides you with an opportunity to identify any issues that we are not aware of.
Who can take part? Can I tell other people to take part?
We welcome the opinions and feedback of anyone as your views, opinions and insight are valuable to us to shape our approach. Please share the link wwww.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/aeb with anyone you think would be interested in taking part. If you intend to submit a joint response on behalf of a group/organisation, please share the link with your colleagues/members so they can provide an individual response, should they wish to do so.
When can I take part?
The consultation is open from Monday 25 May to midnight on Sunday 12 July 2020.
How can I take part?
You can take part in the following ways:
I work for a group/organisation and the Adult Education Budget is important to our staff/business. Can I take part in the consultation with shared views?
Yes, we would welcome any group/organisational views on this scheme. Please make sure that you have permission to comment on behalf of your group or organisation.
I’m a training provider, what happens next?
We will review the proposed AEB Strategy considering the feedback received through this consultation. We aim to publish the final version in Autumn 2020, procurement of delivery will commence shortly after in line with the approach set out in the agreed AEB strategy. Please keep an eye on updates from the Combined Authority as we make progress on the West Yorkshire devolution deal, including devolution of the AEB. You can register to receive updates on the project at www.yourvoice.westyorks-ca.gov.uk/aeb