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 provision, 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 to decide whether you can meet their minimum requirements. This process aims to help the LSC make sure that the organisations they choose can provide quality provision that meet the needs of learners.

Further details of the process for approving new LSC providers are available on the LSC's website at www.lsc.gov.uk/Providers/
If you do not already hold an LSC contract, it is recommended that you download a copy of these documents as soon as possible so that you can see the requirements before submitting your ESFi Tender.

When notifying successful applicants of their ability to progress to a Stage 2 (Full) Tender, Greater Manchester LSC will request details of whether the applicant organisation is one of its existing providers. Organisations that do not currently have a contract with the LSC will need to have an assessment undertaken of their capability to become an approved provider. This assessment will review a number of areas, including: resources, equipment and facilities, heath 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 a ‘New Provider Process’. This consists of a series of checks 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.

The following is a summary of the process.

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 under LSC contracts
  • The quality of education and training and the standards achieved by learners – to ensure that the organisation has the potential to deliver high completion and achievement rates for beneficiaries and to deliver the achievements set out in LSC contracts
  • The quality of management, leadership and curriculum and training areas – to asses 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 which 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

Following an assessment of this information, the application will either be rejected or recommended for further consideration. If an application is recommended for further consideration, then someone from the LSC will visit the organisation to discuss the application in more detail. The visit will usually take place within four working weeks of making the application. The purpose of this visit is to:

  • Check the evidence which supports statements that were made in the application form
  • See the accommodation and facilities, including other locations used for learning services away from the main offices
  • Confirm that the stated health and safety arrangements are in place, check the availability of resources, equipment and accommodation
  • Give the organisation an opportunity to ask questions on the assessment process
  • Fill in a financial health checklist

Finally, an internal assessment panel will review the application form and the evidence provided and will work out the risk status of the organisation prior to making a decision about whether to accept it as a supplier. The LSC will aim to complete this process within 15 working days of making their visit to the organisation. The LSC will inform the organisation of their decision in writing, providing feedback to those organisations that have been rejected.

Pre-contractual Arrangements

Contract Negotiation
Once an ESF project tender has been approved in principal for funding, a contract manager will be assigned to the project and will make contact with the provider.

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 the New Provider Process.

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 profilei
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 expenditurei 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 moneyi 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 as described above.

d) Standard LSC ESF reporting requirements are set out in the Monitoring Requirements section.

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.