IMPORTANT: Survey on SFA subcontracting – closing date 10th August

The SFA have set up a working group to look at the issue of subcontracting and Tim Ward will be joining this group on behalf of TSNLA to promote the interests of third sector organisations. He made a presentation to the group on Wednesday 1st August about the third sector perspective.

As you can see from the enclosed letter (copied text below), AELP & AOC have been commissioned by SFA to carry out a survey of providers and they have asked TSNLA to encourage third sector providers to respond. The survey can be found at:

Closing date is 10th August


Text from letter:

Subcontracting is now the main route for third sector organisations to access SFA funding whether from local authorities, colleges or voluntary sector consortia. While many subcontracting relationships are positive and supportive particularly between third sector organisations, there are a lot of examples of exploitative relationships and also many where the subcontracting relationship is defined by the interests of the main provider rather that a true collaborative relationship.

It is therefore important that the third sector voice is heard loud and clear. Please make the effort to respond to this survey.

In addition please do let Tim have your views on this issue and examples of good and bad practice. This will help him to more effectively represent the interests of third sector organisations on this group. Tim’s email is

You will be aware of some recent concerns regarding supply chains and the sub-contracting of Skills Funding Agency (SFA) allocations.

The SFA has recently established an External Advisory Group on Supply Chains (formerly subcontracting) which has a remit to cover all aspects of this complex subject in order to ensure such provision is managed in an effective way without too heavy a hand. AoC and AELP sit on this group alongside representative Colleges, Training Providers and other stakeholders including relevant SFA representatives. One strand of work identified by the Group is to develop an understanding of the reasons why Colleges and Training Providers enter into sub-contracting arrangements.

Whatever the reasons – and there are likely to be a whole range - then these reasons need to be identified and understood to help the sector explore what changes , if any, might be made to regulations surrounding delivery to allow allocations to be better and more effectively spent. The purpose of the work that AoC and AELP are jointly undertaking is therefore to try and ascertain, without any pre-judgement of the motives or outcome, what the drivers are for provider involvement in supply chains, and to explore the extent to which policy and/or regulatory changes may have prompted these developments.

The work will start with a survey that was published on Friday 20th July on the websites of both AOC and AELP, and which we would strongly encourage every provider to complete and return to us so that we have the best picture possible to take this work forward. The survey link is as follows:

Given the potential sensitivities in this area, we wanted to personally reassure you that all information you submit to the survey will be treated in the strictest confidence. Data will only be shared with the SFA on an aggregated basis and source data will not be made available to the SFA or any other external organisation. No part of the final report to the SFA will enable the identification of any individual provider.

I would urge you to ensure that this survey is completed by the most suitable member of your organisation and returned by the deadline of 10th August. We will in turn use the survey results to allow the External Advisory Group to review and make recommendations as to what actions should be considered to review current policy and/or funding rules.

AELP and AOC are also starting joint work on a Code of Conduct covering subcontracting and supply chains which we very much hope the sector will voluntarily adopt. Further details on this work will be announced shortly.

We very much hope you will join this cross-sector approach to improving the delivery landscape for our sector.