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Skills devolution in 2019 will be complicated but colleges will make it work

19th June 2019

The government plans to devolve control of the adult education budget to six combined authority areas and the Greater London authority in 2019. This will involve devolution of around £700 million (about 50% of the national AEB), an estimated £500 million of which is spent by FE colleges (about 8% of total FE college income). The seven areas (and their websites) are: Greater London Authority Greater Manchester Combined Authority West Midlands Combined Authority Liverpool City Region Combined Authority West of England Combined Authority Tees Valley Combined Authority Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority There have been discussions, think tank reports and campaigns on the devolution of the education and skills budget for many years. It has taken some time for the adult education budget devolution policy to come to fruition. There are a number of reasons for this: the original deals signed in 2015-16 anticipated a phased devolution process over three years starting in 2016 and ending with full devolution in 2018. the planning work for devolution has proved more complicated than anticipated. The 2017 general election interrupted and delayed the process of presenting regulations to Parliament. In autumn 2017, officials wrote to combined authorities explaining that full AEB devolution would be delayed from 2018 to 2019 some of the devolution deals have been cancelled because of local disagreements (eg the North East, Lincolnshire and East Anglia deal). Another deal - in Sheffield City Region - was delayed first by legal action and then by local Adult education budget devolution is now a reality for colleges and they will make sure it works for their learners and communities. The process will create some complicated technical challenges and involves an innovation in that it brings postcode-based funding back into the FE system. This AoC website explains the issues in more detail,