Approved Supplier Status

The LSCi’s main duty under the Learning and Skills Act is to arrange post-16 education and training of a high enough quality and quantity to meet learners’ needs. The main purpose of funding suppliers is to help the LSC carry out this duty. ‘Learning to Succeed’ and ‘Raising Standards in post-16 Learning’ make the LSC responsible for encouraging and supporting the development of high-quality new provisions, leading to a wider base of new suppliers.

If you are successful with a tender under the Prospectus, and do not currently contract with the LSC, you will need to go through an assessment process to help the LSC decide whether you can meet their minimum requirements. This process aims to help make sure that the organisations the LSC will choose can provide quality provision that meet the needs of learners. Organisations will need to complete the Approved Supplier process prior to finalising contracts with the LSC.

The application process aims to help make sure that the chosen organisations can provide quality provision that meet the needs of learners. It also aims to:

  • Keep the bureaucracy of the application process to a minimum
  • Help the LSC to be more flexible in the way they deal with smaller organisations

This assessment will review a number of areas, including: resources, equipment and facilities, health and safety, and equal opportunities.

Assessing New Providers

If a provider does not hold a contract with any LSC, then they will have to be taken through LSC’s New Provider Process; a series of checks that are conducted by the LSC to confirm that the provider is suitable to hold an LSC contract. This process must be completed prior to the formal agreement of the ESFi contract.

The following is a summary of the process, further information will be provided to relevant organisations once they have been invited to enter into contract negotiations.

The New Provider Process enables the LSC to assess new organisations for:

  • Financial health – to understand how much risk the organisation presents to LSC’s funds and those managed by the LSC and to ensure that the organisation is able to carry out its duties
  • The quality of education and training and the standards achieved by learners – to assess the organisation’s potential to offer well-managed services and to raise standards and achievement levels over time
  • Quality assurance and continuous improvement – to assess how effectively the organisation uses its quality assurance and continuous improvement processes
  • Data management – to assess the organisation’s ability to meet LSC’s information requirements and comply with the Data Protection Act
  • Health and safety – to assess the organisation’s ability to provide a safe, healthy and supporting environment for all learners
  • Equal opportunities – to assess the organisation’s ability to promote equal opportunities in all areas of operation and in particular, to provide access and support achievement for learners of particular backgrounds

New Providers will be asked to complete an application form that covers the above criteria. This should be submitted to the LSC along with a range of supporting documents covering:

  • Management structure
  • Details of publicly-funded contracts
  • Details relating to staff qualifications
  • Organisation prospectus or leaflet (if available)
  • Business plan or development plan
  • Relevant financial information
  • Financial and legal statement
  • Health and safety questionnaire
  • Equal opportunities questionnaire

Pre-Contractual Arrangements

Contract Negotiation

Once an ESF project tender has been invited to enter into contracting discussions, a contract manager will be assigned to the project and will make contact with the Provider (applicant organisation).

The contract manager will work with the Provider to negotiate the details of the ESF contract.

If the Provider already holds a contract with any LSC then the ESF contract will be added as a schedule to their existing contract. This additional schedule will represent a variation to that contract and a letter and revised contract will confirm such.

If the Provider does not hold a contract with any LSC, then they will have to be taken through LSC’s New Provider Process; a series of checks that are conducted by the LSC to confirm that the provider is suitable to hold an LSC contract. This process must be completed prior to the formal agreement of the ESF contract.

Contracting Documentation

The ESF contract documentation records a range of information relating to the project including:

a) A list of eligible beneficiaries
b) A payment profile
c) An achievement profile
d) Information regarding LSC’s reporting requirements
e) Information regarding LSC and ESF publicity requirements

a) Only those beneficiaries listed as eligible will be allowed to take part in the project. Should ineligible beneficiaries be included in the project, then their costs will be calculated on a pro rata basis, classed as ineligible expenditure and excluded from payments made to the provider

b)The LSC pays ESF Providers on a profile that is agreed during negotiation of the contract. This profile is based on ‘values’ given to specific achievements, against which payments are made. Payments are not made on the basis of actual expenditure, though this information is required at application stage to enable the appraisers to make a value for money assessment of the proposal. Payments are automatically made according to the agreed profile, which is reviewed on a regular basis, according to actual achievement figures reported by the provider

c) An output/outcome/milestone achievement profile will be negotiated with the provider in drawing-up the ESF contract. Figures provided in the original application will form the starting point for such negotiation, however, the profile is likely to be expanded to include both payable and non-payable achievements which will be linked to the payment profile

d) Standard LSC ESF reporting requirements are set out in the Monitoring Requirements section of this website

e) All ESF providers must adhere to LSC and ESF publicity requirements, including the use of LSC and ESF logos on all material relating to the project