A power struggle between two sets of quangos is threatening to derail local government’s new role in funding and commissioning training for young people.
Steve Broomhead, chief executive of the North West Development Agency, has claimed the Skills Funding Agency (SFA), the successor to the Learning & Skills Council, should be more closely aligned with the work of the nine English regional development agencies.
Going public with a campaign that has so far involved lobbying ministers at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, he suggested legislation to establish sub-regional council partnerships to deliver 14-19 services was amended to give RDAs a greater say over the SFA.
Mr Broomhead claimed ministers were “actively considering” making changes to the proposed arrangements.
John Freeman, director of the Local Government Association’s Raising Expectations Action Team (React), said he would be concerned about any changes to the SFA arrangements.
“The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children & Learning Bill, which sets up the SFA, will be in the House of Lords in October and another key part of that is the change of responsibility for the commissioning and funding for 16-19 services going to local authorities,” he said.
“We are supportive of that and would be very concerned if any fiddling around the edges of the SFA were to get in the way of it.”
Under the new arrangements, councils will be responsible for funding and commissioning the education and training of 16- to 19-year-olds.
The 150 education authorities have been grouped into 41 sub-regional groupings to better map economic areas.
Meanwhile, the LSC is being dissolved and responsibility for post-19 further education being transferred to the SFA.
Mr Broomhead claimed these arrangements would have to be modified.
“To have branches of the SFA located in regions as isolated units could mean the strategic alignment between economic and skills priorities does not take place,” he said.
“I know that ideas we have floated are under active consideration by government at the moment. The changes would need to be made quickly or there would be delays to setting up council partnerships and in transferring staff from the LSC.”