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2022 - 23 WMCA Skills Programmes Funding Rules

Section 8. – Skills Programmes Support Funds

Support funding

WMCA’s over-arching aim is to support as many eligible adult learners as possible to access learning. Some learners will need additional support to start or stay in learning.

Where you identify that a learner has a learning difficulty or disability, or a financial barrier, your Skills programme allocation (Where approved) enables you to claim learning support and/or learner support funding to meet the additional needs of learners.

Access to learning support funds can be granted, but this must form part of your delivery.

Support funding

Learning support is available to meet the cost of putting in place a reasonable adjustment, as set out in the Equality Act 2010, for residents who have an identified learning difficulty or disability, to achieve their learning goal.

Learning support must not be used to deal with everyday difficulties that are not directly associated with a resident’s learning on their programme.

You must:

  • carry out a thorough assessment to identify the support the resident needs
  • agree and record the outcome of your assessment in the resident file
  • record all outcomes on the resident file and keep all evidence of the assessment of the needs, planned and actual delivery
  • report in the ESFA ILR that a WMCA resident has a learning support need associated with an identified learning aim, by entering code LSF1 in the ‘Learning Delivery Funding and Monitoring’ field and entering the corresponding dates in the ‘Date applies from’ and ‘Date applies to’ fields

All learning support claims must be reported in the ILR. To claim any costs that exceed the fixed monthly rate you must also use the earnings adjustment statement (EAS).

You can claim learning support at a fixed monthly rate if you report it in the ILR.

You must use the WMCA EAS if your costs exceed this monthly rate, and you must keep evidence of these costs. You must only record the excess amount on the EAS, not the whole learning support cost. You can find details of how to make a claim in the coding guidance.

You can claim learning support if learning continues past the planned end date and the resident needs continued support.

Exceptional learning support claims above £19,000

If a learner needs significant levels of support to start or continue learning and has support costs of more than £19,000 in a funding year, you can claim exceptional learning support (ELS).

Learners aged 19 to 24 who require significant levels of support should have an EHC plan provided by their local authority and, therefore, would access funding from their local authority.

You must submit ELS claims at the beginning of the resident’s programme, or when you identify the resident requires support costs more than £19,000 in a funding year, by completing and sending the ELS claims document.

Claims should be submitted via a business case in a timely manner and will need formal approval before submitting a claim via EAS

To claim exceptional learning support for a resident aged 19 to 24 you must confirm why the individual does not have an EHC plan. This should be a letter or email from the resident’s local authority stating the reason(s) why the individual does not need an EHC plan.

When you claim exceptional learning support you must explain why you have claimed the amount you have, which would be linked to the learner’s assessment and planned learning support claim. You must only claim amounts for your costs of providing the support to the learner and not include any indirect costs or overheads.

ELS will be funded from within your Skills Programme allocation.

Learner Support (included in Skills Programmes allocation)

Learner support is available to provide financial support for residents with a specific financial hardship preventing them from taking part / continuing in learning. Before you award support to a resident, identify their needs within the following categories:

  • Hardship funding – general financial support for vulnerable and financially disadvantaged residents to support participation learning
  • 20+ childcare funding – for residents aged 20 or older on the first day of learning who are at risk of not starting or continuing learning because of childcare costs

Residential Access funding – to support WMCA funded Skills Programmes residents where they need to live away from home

  • You must not claim more than 5% of your total Learner Support final claim as administration expenditure. You must document your process for managing your administration costs over the current funding year and record, report and retain evidence on spending for each of the categories.
  • If you do not have a Learner Support allocation, you must follow these rules and claim learner support using the earnings adjustment statement (EAS). Approval for claims must be submitted via a business case in a timely manner and will need formal approval before submitting a claim via EAS. Additional overview must be submitted to WMCA monthly, please refer to the Coding guidance for more support.

You must:

  • have criteria for how you will administer and distribute your funds; these must reflect the principles of equality and diversity and be available to residents and to us on request
  • assess and record the resident’s needs, demonstrating the need for support
  • report the appropriate Resident Support Reason codes in the ‘Resident Funding and Monitoring’ fields in the ILR. This does not apply to non-formula community learning
  • Report your expenditure via the mid-year funding forecast, End of year forecast and final funding claims
  • consider the availability of other support for residents, for example from Jobcentre Plus
  • make it clear to residents it is their responsibility to tell the Department for

Work and Pensions about any resident support they are receiving from you, as resident support payments may affect their eligibility for state benefits 50.5. You must not use resident support funds for any of the following:

  • Essential equipment or facilities if the resident is eligible to full funding. However, these residents can get support funding for childcare, transport, and residential costs
  • A resident in custody or released on temporary licence
  • A resident carrying out a higher education course or learning aims fully funded from other sources
  • To pay weekly attendance allowances or achievement and attendance bonuses


You can use hardship funds for any of the following:

  • Course-related costs, including course trips, books, and equipment (where costs are not included in the funding rate)
  • Support with domestic emergencies and emergency accommodation provided by others, or by providing items or services or cash direct to the learner, this can be in the form of a grant or repayable loan provided by you
  • Transport costs (but not a block contribution to post-16 transport partnerships or routinely funded transport costs covered in the Local Authority’s legal duty for residents of sixth-form age)
  • Examination fees
  • Accreditation fees, professional membership fees and any fees or charges due to external bodies
  • Your exam registration fees
  • Support provided by others, or by providing items, services or cash direct to the resident.
  • This can be a grant or a repayable loan

In exceptional circumstances, you can use hardship funds with course fees for residents who need financial support to start or stay in learning

If an asylum seeker is eligible for provision, you may provide resident support in the form of course-related books, equipment or a travel pass.

20+ Childcare

You can only use childcare funding to pay for childcare with a childminder, provider, or childminder agency, registered with Ofsted.

You must not use childcare funding to:

  • fund informal childcare, such as that provided by a relative
  • set up childcare places or to make a financial contribution to the costs of a crèche
  • fund childcare for residents aged under 20 on the first day of learning; instead you must direct them to the ESFA’ s ‘Care to Learn’ programme

You must not use childcare for those aged 20 years or older to top up childcare payments for those receiving ‘Care to Learn’ payments.

Residential Access funding

You can use residential access funding to support ESFA funded Skills Programmes learners who meet eligibility criteria, where they need to live away from home, for example to access specialist provision which involves a residential element, or to support learners who cannot access provision locally.

You must:

  • set out the criteria and procedures for considering and agreeing applications for support from your residential access funds
  • only pay for travel costs for learners who are awarded residential access funding in exceptional circumstances
  • only claim residential access funding for the period the learner is resident, this could be in accommodation you own or manage or other accommodation which you have agreed to fund in line with your criteria
  • ensure costs claimed represent value for money for the local area
  • Where you have your own residential facilities, you must publish your rates

ICT devices and connectivity

You can support disadvantaged learners who are undertaking classroom or blended learning to continue to participate via online learning where the learner:

  • does not have internet access at home, and/or
  • does not have a suitable device, i.e., laptop or tablet, to compete the necessary online course work

You must secure value for money when purchasing IT devices and/or internet access including:

  • deploying any unused devices before you purchase new ones
  • exploring options to access low cost second hand or recycled devices
  • avoiding entering long term contract arrangements
  • holding a record of actual costs for any IT devices and/or internet access bought for this purpose and make this available to us, if asked

IT devices you purchase must only be loaned out to learners and returned at the end of their learning aim to allow them to be re-used by other learners. Learners must sign a declaration, confirming:

  • they will return the device when their online learning aim(s) complete, or if they leave before completing their learning
  • they will return the device in the same condition in which they received it
  • You must maintain an up-to-date record of the loan and return of devices to learners.

You must record the following evidence in the learner’s evidence pack: 54.3.5. the outcome of the assessment undertaken to identify the learner’s individual needs.