1. Introduction

Brighton & Hove City Council (BHCC) receives funding from the Secretary of State for Education through the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), as an Adult Education Budget (AEB) non-procured block grant. This policy sets out how BHCC meets the ESFA’s funding rules through its subcontracting arrangements. BHCC is committed to best use resources to secure and deliver adult learning provision.

Brighton & Hove City Council is a prime contractor with the ESFA and subcontracts its accredited learning provision.

This policy outlines the management charges and fees for BHCC’s subcontracting arrangements. BHCC has contracts with each subcontractor which clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of BHCC and each subcontractor for the academic year.

In February 2020 BHCC’s Adult and Community Learning Service was inspected by Ofsted and rated as 'Good'. BHCC has sought to engage subcontractors who have achieved a similar standard and who share an ethos of working for continuous improvement.

Appendix A provides details of the sub-contractor and contract values for 2022 to 2023.

This document is published on BHCC’s website.

2. The rationale for our subcontracting position

As defined in BHCC’s Curriculum Plan 2022 to 2023, BHCC’s Adult and Community Learning Service seeks to deliver high quality adult learning for adults (aged 19 and over) which:

  • meets local needs
  • focuses on widening participation
  • develops communities
  • develops the skills of residents (aged 19 and over) with low skill levels
  • provides progression routes to further learning, employment or volunteering

Since 2021 to 2022 BHCC reduced its subcontracted provision to accord with reforms made by the ESFA to see a reduction in the overall volume of subcontracted delivery in the sector.

BHCC will subcontract services where necessary to:

  • enhance the educational opportunities available to learners in the city
  • strengthen links with local community organisations for the benefit of adult learners
  • promote more effective collaboration with other adult learning providers in the city
  • diversify the capacity to deliver, by providing education and training that BHCC does not have the infrastructure or expertise to deliver itself

BHCC’s Adult and Community Learning Service critically consider whether subcontracting arrangements add value to Brighton & Hove’s economy and represent value for money before deciding to subcontract services. Courses and a curriculum plan are reviewed on annual and regular basis at governance meetings.

The 2022 to 2023 procurement process sought a subcontractor to deliver a range of accredited adult education courses in the priority curriculum areas of:

  • Accredited Learning - English and maths
  • ICT Digital Skills
  • sector specific qualifications that lead to job opportunities within the local labour market

BHCC has chosen to subcontract to:

  • offer an entry point to learning for residents with low qualifications
  • fill gaps in niche or expert provision, or provide better access to training facilities
  • enhance and specialist learning opportunities which equip learners with the digital and employability skills to progress into work

BHCC reviews its supply-chain fees and charges with sub-contractors depending on the type and size of contract. Fees are subject to a risk assessment and due-diligence and are dependent on the agreed success rates and volume measures.

3. Subcontracting overview

BHCC’s Adult and Community Learning Service follows BHCC’s procurement requirements and adheres to BHCC’s Contract Standing Orders and all relevant procurement legislation when awarding contracts. Contracts were awarded on a competitive tendering basis

All subcontracted provision is required to be delivered in line with the ESFA's funding rules.

Appendix A provides details of the sub-contractors and contract values for 2022 to 2023.

4. BHCC’s commitment to improving the quality of adult education

BHCC is committed to continual improvement in teaching and learning in, both subcontracted and in-house provision. This is demonstrated by ensuring that any subcontractor is selected through a process that requires demonstrable evidence that they can deliver and sustain high quality education, including high quality teaching, learning and assessment, for all learners in all venues. It is managed through a process of regular performance monitoring and review including independent and paired teaching, learning and assessment observation. This is supported through a comprehensive quality programme of staff development and training

Subcontractors must have an excellent understanding of the robust evidence we are required to collect for both the ESFA and Ofsted. The tutors, BHCC staff and staff employed by the provider must be experienced, appropriately qualified and have current DBS checks, which are confirmed annually.


5. Management fees

BHCC propose to retain an estimated management fee of up to 20% for the 2022 to 2023 academic year. In summary, the fee has been calculated on the basis of the salary costs of the Adult Learning Manager and the BHCC management support necessary to ensure proper contract management, quality monitoring and ensure that data is collected and can be provided to the ESFA in a timely fashion.

These costs will vary depending on the type of provision being subcontracted, the risks associated with the provision and a proportion of costs relating to the overheads incurred by BHCC’s management of the prime contract. Section 8 provides details of services supplied to the subcontractor.

The time allocation of the BHCC staff (shown as a percentage) has been forecast based on time allocations used in 2021 to 2022 and may vary with subcontractor’s needs.

It should also be noted that additional strategic and operational support by is offered by the following BHCC staff:

  • Head of Education and Skills
  • data analyst
  • finance staff
  • communications and press office

BHCC will review the management fee regularly to ensure that it is a reasonable and proportionate fee to the delivery of the sub-contracted provision. Each cost contributes to continuous development of the service and the delivery of high-quality learning to the city. The Adult Learning Manager post will ensure a high-quality service is delivered to national standards, benchmarks and regulatory frameworks such including Ofsted. This policy is reviewed annually.

ESFA Accredited Learning

BHCC will retain up to 20% of the contract value delivered by a subcontractor to cover the staffing and other associated costs of supporting and monitoring the subcontracted provision. The remainder of the budget allocation will be used for the provision of learning opportunities, which will be offered to external providers through a competitive tendering process.

ESFA Community Learning

The Community Learning allocation including Family Learning is used for the provision of learning opportunities, delivered by BHCC’s in- house team. The resource input from BHCC is funded through its ESFA core grant.

BHCC’s Adult and Community Learning Service also works to facilitate the sharing of good practice and peer support across the subcontracted and internal provision.

6. The monitoring process

BHCC is committed to ensuring that the teaching delivered to learners is of the best possible quality and demonstrates excellent impact and services provided.

BHCC has a robust contract monitoring process in place, which cover:

  • Performance against targets / planned delivery
  • Quality of teaching and learning
  • Safeguarding
  • Equality and Diversity
  • British Values / Prevent

7. Services provided by Brighton & Hove City Council to support the subcontractor

Activities covered under the management costs to ensure the quality of the service and teaching offer include those listed below. The time allocation of the BHCC staff (shown as a percentage) has been forecast based on time allocations used in 2021 to 2022 and may vary with subcontractor’s needs.

Dedicated BHCC contact

Appointment of a named officer (Education and Skills Officer and Adult Learning Manager) as first point of contact who will respond promptly to any queries and monitor the performance against contract throughout the year.

Strategic planning, procurement process and due diligence (20%)

The time allocation of the BHCC staff is shown as a percentage:

  • identifying needs and priorities for the service
  • programme planning based on local and national priorities
  • performance reporting to BHCC’s adult learning Governance Board
  • tender and/or procurement authorisation process
  • developing, implementing and managing the due diligence process in accordance with ESFA funding rules
  • tender and/or procurement evaluation and award of contracts
  • pre-contract meeting
  • contract development and agreement
  • setting up of facility for contract payments
  • managing proposed changes to contract in-year
  • management of subcontracted provision (25%)
  • regular contact, dialogue and professional support with key subcontractor contacts though contract monitoring meetings and governance meetings
  • regular contract meetings to monitor provider performance against contract requirements and the quality of delivery against national quality benchmarks
  • monitoring of the sub-contractor to ensure compliance with their obligations in respect of processing personal data under the sub-contract and complying with associated legislation
  • preparing papers and co-ordinating termly Governance meetings and subcontract performance review meetings
  • funding body compliance (25%)
  • providing information, advice, guidance and support to ensure delivery is compliant with the ESFA’s funding rules
  • maintaining BHCC’s relationship with the ESFA
  • uploading claims and financial regulatory documents to the ESFA
  • developing documentation and paperwork in accordance with the requirements of the
  • ESFA for example enrolment form
  • purchasing and maintenance of a specialist Management Information System
  • collecting data, recording it on the Service’s Management Information System and submitting
  • accurate funding returns to the ESFA
  • managing monthly ILR return process
  • managing the ESFA funding allocation
  • managing external audits and internal audit such as paperwork checks, register checks and quality checks
  • managing contract payments to subcontractors
  • processing and submitting to the ESFA of ILR returns, data validation and reporting.
  • processing business support paperwork, invoices, regular finance payments and inputting of data

Quality Assurance (35%)

  • Providing quality assurance and improvement support.
  • Reviewing, scrutinising and providing constructive feedback on reports, plans and analysis provided by sub-contractors, including:
    • Self-Assessment Report (SAR) & Quality Improvement Plan (QIP)
    • Safeguarding log
    • Staff database
    • Complaints log
    • KPI and performance reports, including delivery information and observation findings
  • Reviewing the annual Self-Assessment Review (SAR). This document will involve all staff within the service, learners and appropriate partners, employers and stakeholders. The SAR will review performance in line with the Education Inspection Framework and include reference to national benchmarks, trends and minimum standards. The SAR will be updated through the year, as and when necessary, for example, in response to outcomes.
  • Reviewing the Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) that is developed alongside the SAR and details key improvements to be made within year, the people, the improvements involved and the deadline for the improvement. The QIP will be reviewed and formally updated at least termly.
  • Undertaking direct observations of learning, teaching and assessment as appropriate.
  • Participating in subcontractors’ course monitoring and RARPA review activity. Sample course folders to ensure they meet the agreed quality requirements
  • Spot checking venues being used to deliver BHCC funded learning opportunities to ensure compliance with requirements.
  • Scrutinising subcontractor ILR data. This would include undertaking compliance checks on information included in the ILR in relation to the ESFA Funding Rules, such as:
    • Undertaking learner eligibility checks and learner file audits (as per ESFA Funding Rules)
    • Undertaking audits and consultation activity with learners, non-learners and key stakeholders / partners to inform provision and practice
    • Commissioning external representatives to undertake impartial quality assurance checks of BHCC and subcontractor practice

In addition BHCC provides additional strategic and operational support through its Head of Employment and Skills, data analyst and finance team

Core support functions include

  • Strategic planning & procurement process, due diligence
  • Management of subcontracted provision
  • Funding body compliance
  • Quality assurance
  • External audit
  • Media and publicity

Each subcontract costs are deemed reasonable and proportionate to the delivery cost and are annually reviewed by the Governance Body.

8. How and when the policy is communicated to and discussed with current and potential sub-contractors

The policy is communicated through termly governance/contract meetings with the subcontractors and at the contract award meeting with subcontractors.

9. Payment arrangements

Subcontractor accredited learning payments will be based on the outcomes from the ILR.

The subcontractors are paid at regular intervals throughout the year and in line with funding contract and related agreements. The subcontractors are required to submit monthly ILR Data to BHCC at least five (5) working days before the ESFA deadlines.

Once the monthly ILR Data has been processed, BHCC confirms the invoice amount for that month. The subcontractors then submit an invoice for the invoice amount within thirty (30) days of BHCC confirming the invoice amount. BHCC makes payment to the subcontractors within thirty (30) days of receiving a valid invoice.

10. Policy review

This policy is reviewed annually and updated accordingly. The next planned review date is July 2023.

This policy may be reviewed if significant changes in the ESFA funding rules occur. Any changes to this policy that occur mid-contract will be discussed with the subcontractors.

In addition, BHCC, as part of the subcontracting agreements, will undertake a performance and delivery review to enable re-profiling of payments, if delivery volumes or quality of service has fallen below agreed levels.

Appendix A: Subcontractor summary information



Original contract value 2022 to 2023

Maximum Management fee held by BHCC from the funding generated

Maximum Contract payable

Contract end date


Creative Process Digital Ltd


20% - £13,000


31 July 2023


Functional Skills UK


20% - £13,000


31 July 2023


Whitehead-Ross Education and Consulting Ltd


20% - £14,000


31 July 2023

Review date and Officer responsible

This policy will be reviewed annually, and in-year as required by funding guidelines and rules.


15 October 2023

Review date               

1 July 2023

Officer Responsible   

Head of Skills and Employment, Education & Skills Brighton & Hove City Council


Carla Butler 


Revised 18 October 2021

Presented to Governance Board

1 November 2022