About the Adult Education Budget

The Adult Education Budget (AEB) funds education and training for adults aged 19 and above 

Some of these qualifications funded through the AEB include basic English and maths skills, basic digital and adult community learning. 

These courses are delivered by a range of different providers, including:

  • further education colleges
  • local authorities
  • independent training providers
  • institutes for adult learning
  • sixth form colleges
  • universities

The Mayor of London is taking over responsibility for the Adult Education Budget from the government starting in the academic year 2019/20.


The Secretary of State and the Mayor of London have signed a delegation letter and Memorandum of Understanding, to transfer certain AEB funding and powers to the Mayor of London. 

In January 2019, the Department for Education confirmed London's AEB allocation for the academic year 2019/20 of circa £306 million. This means that (from the academic year 2019/20) the Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) will, from academic year (AY) 2019/20, no longer be accountable for the AEB, which it currently allocates and manages. 

The GLA will be responsible for commissioning AEB-funded provision to Greater London, and have the freedom to set priorities and funding rates, while still being subject to the statutory duties of the Secretary of State. 

This will allow the GLA to focus on meeting local area need, delivering local economic objectives and developing a sustainable local provider base. 

The Secretary of State has issued guidance for the exercise of delegated adult education functions to the Mayor.

The information here and in the questions below may change.

Key information

The legal entitlements to full funding for eligible adult learners, set out in the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, will continue to apply after delegation of the AEB to the GLA. 

The legal entitlements are currently:

  • English and maths, up to and including level 2, for individuals aged 19 and over, who have not previously attained a GCSE grade A* - C or grade 4, or higher, and/or
  • first full qualification at level 2 for individuals aged 19 to 23 and/or
  • first full qualification at level 3 for individuals aged 19 to 23

For AY2019/20 and beyond, the GLA will be responsible and accountable for providing assurance, through their governance arrangements, that the AEB is properly spent.

The GLA will set and determine its own commissioning of AEB provision in Greater London and will for example:

  • Manage and be accountable for the transferred budget 
  • Determine its own procurement requirements (and compliance with the appropriate legal regulations)
  • Allocate the transferred funds 
  • Set its own priorities (Skills for Londoners Strategy 2018) and, paying due regard to the legal entitlement arrangements, decide what learning programmes and which learners it will and will not fund and the associated funding rates (GLA AEB 2019/20 Funding Rates and Formula for all Providers)
  • Determine its own funding and performance management rules, paying due regard to legislation and guidance (GLA Adult Education Budget 2019-23 Funding and Performance Management rules for Grant-Funded Providers)
  • Set its own contracting and conditions of funding arrangements (AEB Procured and AEB/ ESF Procured)
  • Put in place its own payment arrangements (GLA Ops and SAP)
  • Set and publish its own funding and performance management rules (draft GLA Adult Education Budget 2019-23 Funding and Performance Management Rules for Grant-Funded Providers)
  • Manage providers with whom it has a contract/ funding agreement

Providers who deliver to learners resident in the Greater London area will need to discuss funding and contracting arrangements with the GLA as funding allocations to the GLA will be based on learner residency postcodes.

Actual 2019/20 GLA AEB budgets have been based on AY2017/18 delivery to London residents. The allocation received was £306,444,875 under section 39a of the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

It has been agreed by ministers that providers which meet all of the following criteria will be funded nationally for two academic years following delegation of the AEB (2019/20 and 2020/21):

  • qualify for a financial residential uplift for their learning provision
  • receive more than two-thirds of their income from the AEB
  • predominantly target the most disadvantaged learners

This will aid their transition to delegation given their specialist nature and reliance on AEB. The provider which currently meets these criteria in London is Richmond and Hillcroft Adult and Community College London (RHACC).

The delegation letter from the Secretary of State to the Mayor of London provides that the Mayor of London must, in relation to RHACC, ensure that the GLA complies with the terms and conditions set out in this letter

From 2021/22 the GLA budget allocation will be amended, where relevant, to reflect the end of the transitional period for the above provider.

The Mayor is now preparing for Year 2 (2020/2021) of AEB delegation and beyond. 

The Mayor is committed to making minimal changes to the AEB in Year 1 to maintain stability for the sector during the transition to delegation. 

From Year 2 the Mayor will begin to phase in some of the changes to the AEB proposed in the Framework. 

The Mayor sought, through a consultation process, the views from providers on the proposed changes, which outlined in the AEB Consultation Year 2 (2020/21 report.  

The consultation closed on Monday, 20 May 2019.

General Q&As

What is the AEB?

The AEB aims to engage adults and provide the skills and learning they need to equip them for work, an apprenticeship or other learning. It enables more flexible tailored programmes of learning to be made available, which may or may not require a qualification, to help eligible learners engage in learning, build confidence, and/or enhance their wellbeing. The AEB supports three statutory entitlements to full funding for eligible adult learners for the following qualifications:

  • English and maths, up to and including level 2, for individuals aged 19 and over, who have not previously attained a GCSE grade A* - C or grade 4, or higher, and/or
  • first full qualification at level 2 for individuals aged 19 to 23, and/ or 
  • first full qualification at level 3 for individuals aged 19 to 23

Eligibility for AEB funding is based on an individual's age, prior attainment and circumstances. (GLA Adult Education Budget 2019-23 Funding and Performance Management Rules for Grant-Funded Providers) AEB Procured and AEB/ESF.

What is included with AEB delegation?

The delegation agreement sets out the functions that will be transferred from the Secretary of State to the Mayor of London.  

Which functions are being delegated to the GLA and how?

  • the delegated functions to be exercised by the Mayor instead of by the Secretary of State in relation to the area of Greater London are:
    1.  Section 86 which relates to education and training for persons aged 19 or over and others subject to adult detention
    2. Section 87 which relates to learning aims for persons aged 19 or over: provision of facilities
    3. Section 88 which relates to learning aims for persons aged 19 or over: payment of tuition fees education functions from the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 ('the 2009 Act')

In addition, functions which relate to 

  • the encouragement of education and training for persons aged 19 or over
  • the provision of financial resources will be exercisable concurrently with the Secretary of State (SoS)

The delegated functions will be exercisable by the GLA on behalf of the SoS in relation to their areas.  

In addition, functions of the SoS which relate to the encouragement of education and training for persons aged 19 or over, and the provision of financial resources, are delegated to the GLA and will be exercisable concurrently with the SoS.  

The GLA will be responsible for outlining its priority provision through its skills plans (Skills for Londoners Strategy)

There will also be a responsibility on the GLA to have regard to Statutory Guidance as well as for people with learning difficulties and disabilities when carrying out those duties under section 115 of the 2009 Act.

What are the Key Milestones?

Key programme milestones from 2018 onwards
Date Milestone
January - August 2018
September - December 2018
April - July 2019



January - July 2019

Allocations and payments
Target date Planned activity
22 January
Memorandum of Understanding signed
31 January
DfE notifies GLA of AEB budget allocation for 2019/20 academic year

31 March


  • £306,444,875 AEB for academic year 2019/20
  • final grant allocation letters issued
  • AEB delivery starts
  • GLA begins making payments to providers for 2019/20
DfE notifies GLA of AEB Budget allocation for academic year 2020/21
DfE pays to GLA, AEB Funds for 12 months activity; four months of academic year 2019/20 (April 20-July 20), and eight months of academic year 2020/21 (August 2020 - March 2021)
GLA begins making payments to providers for academic year 2020/21

Grant allocations and contract values Q&As

What is London's AEB allocation?

London's allocation is £306,444,875 for the academic year 2019/20 as confirmed by the DfE in January 2019.

How is the GLA distributing AEB funds?

The GLA will allocate the majority of its AEB funding as grants to eligible providers currently delivering AEB to London learners. The remainder will be distributed through contracts for services following an open procurement process which was launched in 2018. These contracts will total approximately £130 million for AEB delivery to London residents over four years (£32.5 million per annum).

What funding rules will the GLA set?

The GLA published its funding rules for grant-funded providers for 2019/20 alongside separate rules for AEB providers awarded a contract for delivery.  It will shortly publish the Funding Rates and Formula for all Providers which sets out the key features and principles of the GLA funding system for AEB.

What are the grant allocations and contract values for 2019/20?

Funding values for grant and procured providers (September 2019)

Delivery Q&As

What does AEB delegation to London from 2019/20 mean for providers?

AEB delegation to London means that the Mayor of London will be solely responsible for funding providers delivering AEB education and training to London residents from 2019/20. This is a ground-breaking opportunity for the Mayor to tailor adult education and skills provision in the capital to ensure Londoners can learn and develop the skills they need to succeed.

How will AEB delivery be linked to the Mayor's priorities?

The Mayor's Skills for Londoners Framework sets out his priorities for AEB in London. For Year 1 of AEB delegation (academic year 2019/20), the Mayor committed to make relatively few changes to the AEB, recognising the need to provide stability to the sector during the transition to delegation. From Year 2 (academic year 2020/21) the Mayor will begin to phase in some of the changes to the AEB proposed in the Framework following extensive consultation with the sector.

Data collection Q&As

Who will providers submit data returns to following AEB delegation?

There is a legal requirement on providers to submit data to the Secretary of State for all provision funded by the DfE.  Learner data will continue to be gathered from providers in a national data system, currently the Individualised Learner Record (ILR), from which the Education and Skills Funding Agency will share data with the GLA to ensure the maintenance functions post-delegation.

The DfE and the GLA are currently developing a comprehensive service offer on national AEB data collection requirements that will include:

  • adding further values in the ILR specification that will identify GLA-funded provision
  • processing delegated delivery through the national funding calculation
  • the creation of new funding reports for providers

Following delegation, the GLA will have additional data requirements for AEB procured provision that has been match funded with ESF funding and goes beyond what can be collected in the ILR. Details will be published in the European social Fund Data Evidence Requirements: Eligibility and Results guidance report on the DfE website in the coming months.

The GLA may choose to gather additional data such as that required to report against locally determined outcomes and to inform evidence bases for future funding and commissioning decisions. Where additional data requirements are under consideration, the GLA will work collectively with the DfE and the devolved Mayoral Combined Authorities to balance that need against minimising additional administrative burdens on providers.  

Will the GLA continue to use the national register of providers?

The GLA may refer to and check organisation against information held on the register. It also reserves the right, subject to due diligence, to allow providers who are not listed on the register to deliver AEB-funded programmes.

Audit Q&As

What will the approach to audit be for providers in London following delegation from 2019/20?

  • local authorities will continue to be responsible for their own assurance for AEB-grant-funded provision.  Accounting Officers within local authorities are responsible for returning a signed claim which confirms they have spent the money appropriately. GLA provider managers will also discuss audit and assurance processes with local authority providers to understand the approach and share best practice
  • colleges will be required to submit accounts, external audit statements, internal audit committee reports and a regularity opinion to the ESFA in accordance with its guidance; colleges will also be required to submit said documents to the GLA in line with ESFA timelines
  • all AEB providers will be required to have policies and procedures, including a whistleblowing policy, on the process to be followed if suspicion arises of potential irregularity
  • the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) provides audit services to the GLA and will carry out any investigations on fraud or financial irregularity for all AEB delivery
  • all AEB-grant-funded providers (other than local authorities) will be audited as part of a five-year plan; providers will be selected through a risk and random selection approach, with providers that have had an audit within the five-year cycle being removed from the random selection pool
  • the GLA's AEB-procured programme is match funded to European Social Funds (ESF), which means the programme delivery must comply with ESF requirements. GLA provider managers will carry out quarterly sample checks on provider paperwork. AEB procured providers will also be audited over the programmes' provider's four-year term to ensure both ESF and AEB compliance. 
  • AEB procured providers will be selected for audit on the same risk and random selection basis as AEB grant-funded providers.  In addition, AEB procured providers will be subject to the ESF Managing Authority's audit regime which may include audits by the London European Programmes Management Unit (EPMU), DWP, the National ESF Audit Authority and the European Commission
  • the GLA will follow the same approach to sub-contracting to the ESFA in broad terms. GLA providers with sub-contractors of £100,000 in value or more will need to obtain an annual report from an external auditor. Only one sub-contracting audit will be required a copy of auditors certificate and report
  • the GLA will liaise closely with the ESFA to ensure that wherever possible the selection and timing of audits ensure a single coordinated approach between GLA and ESFA appointed auditors

National AEB Q&A

How will the delegated arrangement work alongside the non-devolved arrangements?

After delegation, ESFA will retain accountability for the AEB in non-devolved and non-delegated local authority areas.  ESFA will retain its national systems and functions and its Chief Executive will remain the Accountable Officer for all AEB until August 2019. Moving forwards, DfE and ESFA will continue to work with the GLA to align national and local policy on adult education while still allowing scope for local flexibilities and responsiveness. 

Performance management and intervention Q&As

What will the approach to monitoring the performance of providers be from 2019/20?

The GLA will monitor the performance of providers for quality and financial stability and will act when performance does not meet the required levels as defined in the agreed conditions of funding between the provider and the GLA. GLA provider managers will use a range of information including funding claims, data returns, supporting evidence, quarterly monitoring visits and professional assessments of quality from Ofsted in determining the performance of providers. 

Please see the GLA Grant-funded provision and GLA Procured provision monitoring and intervention policies for further details.

I have received second rating of 'Requires Improvement' by Ofsted for my apprenticeship provision. Will the GLA implement early intervention measures against my contract?

No, the GLA will not instigate early intervention measures as the concern relates to the ESFA-funded provision and not your GLA contract.

If, however, the underperformance creates a concern for both the GLA and ESFA, it is likely that you will be placed in intervention measures for both organisation. For example, if the financial health indicates a decline immediately or in the future, it is likely that additional information and monitoring will be required by both your GLA provider manager and ESFA case manager. In this scenario, the GLA and ESFA will share appropriate information to ensure that the provider is not overburdened, while the required information is provided to assure the GLA of returning to acceptable performance levels in future. 

I'm a student and I'm not happy with my college/learning provider. How can I report this?

You must contact your learning provider and explore the complaint before contacting the GLA. If you have already contacted your college or learning provider, and you are unsatisfied with the resolution, there is further information on how to escalate the issue to the GLA. 

When and how will DfE and the GLA agree financial health assessments and wider funding and provider management arrangements?

The GLA will make its own assessments of the financial health of providers, following a similar timeline and approach to that of DfE. Provider management arrangements are set out in the GLA's AEB funding rules. Regular communication with DfE has been established in terms of audit and intervention. 

Business cycle Q&As

How will the business cycle be affected from 2019/20?

To support the Mayoral commitment to maximising provider stability and smooth transitioning in the first year of devolution, the GLA proposes to mirror the ESFA business cycle as far as possible

Funding claims will be submitted in:

  • February for the mid-year claim
  • September for the year-end claim
  • October for the final claim

ILR data will be submitted to the ESFA via the national process for the 2019/20 financial year. The ESFA will provide the GLA with the relevant data, which is determined by an identifiable code for a London learner. Find out more about the ILR data return.

In addition, audit and financial health assessments will take place in line with the ESFA business cycle.

GLA provider managers will meet with providers on a quarterly basis to monitor performance. This will enable the provider manager to identify good practise or any performance concerns at an early stage.


More information

For more information on devolution/delegation of the AEB please read the government's Core Brief, published in October 2018.

Information is also available on the gov.uk website, each of the MCAs, and on our website.   


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