Our Contracts and Funding

Our contracts, projects and funding

Education and Skills Funding Agency

The ESFA brings together the former responsibilities of the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and Skills Funding Agency (SFA) to create a single agency accountable for funding education and skills for children, young people and adults.
ESFA is an executive agency, sponsored by the Department for Education. Visit the Department for Education website.

Education and Skills Funding Agency logo


  • is accountable for £58 billion of funding for the education and training sector, providing assurance that public funds are properly spent, achieves value for money for the tax payer and delivers the policies and priorities set by the Secretary of State.
  • regulates academies, further education and sixth-form colleges, and training providers, intervening where there is risk of failure or where there is evidence of mismanagement of public funds.
  • delivers major projects and operates key services in the education and skills sector, such as school capital programmes, the National Careers Service, the National Apprenticeship Service and the Learning Records Service.

An apprenticeship is a genuine job and an apprentice will be employed from day one. Apprenticeships combine practical training in a job with study.

An apprentice will:

  • work alongside experienced staff
  • gain job-specific skills
  • earn a wage and get holiday pay
  • be given time for study related to their role (the equivalent of one day a week)

Find out more about Apprenticeships.

A traineeship is a training programme that prepares individuals for employment and includes a work placement as part of the programme. The Traineeship programme can last from 6 weeks up to 6 months.

Traineeships help 16 to 24 year olds – or 25 year olds with an education, health and care (EHC) plan – get ready for an apprenticeship or job if they don’t have the appropriate skills or experience.

Find out more about Traineeships.

Advanced learner loans are available for individuals aged 19 or above to undertake approved qualifications at levels 3 to level 6, at an approved provider in England.

 Advanced learner loans give individuals access to financial support for tuition costs similar to that available in higher education and are administered by Student Finance England.

The availability of loans at level 3 for 19 to 23 year olds does not replace an individual’s legal entitlement for full funding for a first full level 3 qualification. If you want to apply for a loan or find out what it means for you, please see the Government’s quick guide on advanced learner loans.

Advanced learner loans are paid directly to the college or training organisation on behalf of an individual.

They are not means tested or subject to credit checks and any individual who meets the criteria will be able to apply for a loan regardless of their current employment status.

Find out more about Advanced Learner Loan Qualifications.

Adult Education Budget (AEB)

The AEB aims to engage adults and provide the skills and learning they need to equip them for work, an apprenticeship or other learning. It enables more flexible tailored programmes of learning to be made available, which may or may not require a qualification, to help eligible learners engage in learning, build confidence, and/or enhance their wellbeing.

The purpose of this provision is to ensure that capacity is in place to provide skills support to  unemployed individuals on benefits who are looking for work but face a skills barrier to entering the labour market.

Training and Skills which may include regulated units and qualifications in the training offer in order that individuals can build upon, once in employment. However, the training must respond to an individual’s skills needs and all support must be delivered in the context of a personalised skills training programme whose objective is to secure a job outcome.

We work in partnership with a number of local and national employers such as Tesco, National Grid, The Banks Group and Wates Construction as well as Job Centre Plus, National Careers Service and other referral partners delivering a variety of training programmes providing unemployed individuals new skills to move them into work.

Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and European Social Fund (ESF)

The ESFA is a co-financing organisation matching European Social Fund and domestic public funding Contract other organisations known as providers to manage European Social Fund projects.

The ESF invests in people, with a focus on improving employment and education opportunities across the European Union. It also aims to improve the situation of the most vulnerable people at risk of poverty.

Education and Skills Funding Agency logo
European Social Fund Logo

The ESF is Europe’s main instrument for supporting jobs, helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer job opportunities for all EU citizens. It works by investing in Europe’s human capital – its workers, its young people and all those seeking a job. ESF financing of EUR 10 billion a year is improving job prospects for millions of Europeans, in particular those who find it difficult to get work.

The European Union is committed to creating more and better jobs and a socially inclusive society. These goals are at the core of the Europe 2020 strategy for generating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the EU. The current economic crisis is making this an even more demanding challenge. The ESF is playing an important role in meeting Europe’s goals, and in mitigating the consequences of the economic crisis – especially the rise in unemployment and poverty levels. Find out more about the Europe 2020 Strategy.

It is funding tens of thousands of local, regional and national employment-related projects throughout Europe: from small projects run by neighbourhood charities to help local disabled people find suitable work, to nationwide projects that promote vocational training among the whole population. Find out more about the European projects.

There is a great variety in the nature, size and aims of ESF projects, and they address a wide variety of target groups. There are projects aimed at education systems, teachers and schoolchildren; at young and older job-seekers; and at potential entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. People are the focus of the ESF.

Skills Support for the Unemployed

The purpose of this provision is to ensure that capacity is in place to provide skills support to  unemployed individuals on benefits who are looking for work but face a skills barrier to entering the labour market.

Training and Skills which may include regulated units and qualifications in the training offer in order that individuals can build upon these, once in employment. However, the training must respond to an individual’s skills needs and all support must be delivered in the context of a personalised skills training programme whose objective is to secure a job outcome.

Eligible learners are aged 19 or over, must be unemployed; in receipt of state benefits; looking for work, and require skills training to help them enter work.

SSU within CPCA

We within Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA), an area of deprivation as identified by the LEP European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Strategy. The ESIF Strategy highlights a lack of relevant experience and relevant qualifications as being frequently cited by local businesses as reasons for not recruiting those out of work. Therefore, people looking for work need the right qualifications and experience to enter the workplace. our provision targeted at the unemployed to focus on creating pathways to employment with specific target groups being indentified as needing additional support: lone parents, 50+ (Fuller Working Lives), women returners, care leavers, autism/learning disability – supported employment, informal carers and those with mental health needs.

Within CPCA these areas are: Fenland, Huntingdonshire, East Cambridgeshire, Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Other areas included which form part of the wider LEP area are Rutland, West Norfolk & Kings Lynn, St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath.  The borders of South Holland & South Kesteven are eligible areas to support the delivery of provision where this focuses on the north side of the Combined Authority Area e.g. Peterborough or around Rutland. 

We work in partnership with employers and referral partners within CPCA region delivering a variety of training programmes such as ‘Work Step’ providing unemployed individuals new skills to assist with their progression into employment or further education.

Visit our Skills Support for the Unemployed website page.

Visit our CPCA page for Employers.

The Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) programme provides fully-funded workplace training to eligible SME’s to upskill employees to meet individual and employer needs. 

We deliver this programme in partnership with TWIN Training.

We currently provide accredited Level 2 and 3 SSW courses in East Sussex, Essex and Kent as per regional skills priorities.

Eligible businesses must employ between 1-249 members of staff and have an annual turnover not exceeding EUR 50m (£41.6m) and/or an annual balance sheet not exceeding EUR 43m (£35.8m). 

Visit our Skills Support for the Workforce website page.

The European Social Fund (ESF) is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for 2014-2020. The aim of ESF is to increase labour market participation, promote social inclusion and develop the skills of the future and existing workforce. In London, ESF will support the London Economic Action Partnership’s (LEAP’s) three skills and employment themes: promoting sustainable employment and progression outcomes, ensuring individuals and employers are better informed to drive the skills and employment system and engaging with London’s businesses to help drive growth in the Capital. London has been allocated £508,203,664 by Government (using a 0.87 exchange rate in October 2018).

In London, the ESF is managed by the Greater London Authority’s European Programmes Management Unit (EPMU) which acts as an Intermediate Body (IB) on behalf of the Managing Authority, DWP. The majority of ESF provision in London is being delivered through Co-Financing Organisations (CFOs). CFOs are responsible for providing the match funding for the ESF provision that they commission and manage. In addition to the Greater London Authority (GLA).

There are five local CFOs in London including Greater London Authority (GLA). We work with GLA to deliver Foundations for your Future, a construction based training programme delivered throughout London supporting unemployed people to achieve Level 2/3 Construction based qualifications/units and match them with local construction businesses to support business growth.

The National Lottery Community Fund

The National Lottery Community Fund is matching funds from the European Social Fund for projects across England that tackle poverty and promote social inclusion.

The National Lottery Community Fund Logo
European Social Fund Logo

The National Lottery Community Fund is matching funds from the European Social Fund (ESF) 2014-2020 to invest in local projects tackling the root causes of poverty, promoting social inclusion and driving local jobs and growth.

Building Better Opportunities (BBO) projects will support more than 100,000 people overall. The programme will help these individuals to overcome multiple complex needs, build confidence and resilience, and become less isolated from their local communities.

This project aims to provide holistic support for disadvantaged people who are not in work within Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Staffordshire Moorlands and Essex.

It provides a coordinated, individualised approach to give those with multiple barriers tailored support to move closer to and into employment as part of a ‘managed participant journey’ (this will ensure that contact is maintained and activity is tracked as participants progress towards engagement with the labour market).

The project focuses on those who are furthest from the labour market.Employment will be one measure, but so too will be the confidence of people to progress onto other training, education or volunteering opportunities. The project will therefore need to:

  • provide the means through which disadvantaged people become work-ready, and are able to access learning, training and job opportunities;
  • engage and support disadvantaged people who are socially or geographically isolated to enable them to overcome barriers to employment;
  • provide support to assist with the transition to work or learning;
  • provide individuals with the necessary skills to secure employment or self employment, including digital and financial skills.

Find out more about our Connecting Choices programme here.

HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) CFO

Delivers projects aimed at improving employability which are seen as key to changing offender’s lives and reducing reoffending.

Working with a range of providers and sub contractors, the HMPPS Co-Financing Organisation (CFO) helps offenders and ex-offenders access employment services assisting them to gain employment.

CFO logo
shaw trust logo
European Social Fund Logo

Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service HMPPS – CFO3 South East/Thames Valley and West Midlands

Ixion has been contracted to deliver this national programme, part-funded by the ESF, for England in the South East/Thames Valley and the West Midlands. It is available to individuals in custody, as they move through the gates, and in the community. Participation is completely voluntary, with flexible programme duration to best meet individual needs.

Ixion is committed to delivering a flexible programme that promotes social inclusion, fits into the local delivery landscape, effectively sequences provision, achieves positive outcomes and supports individuals to secure employment, training and education.

To achieve this, we will work with local partners and stakeholders to engage them in decision making, continually develop our programme, and join up existing services. This includes working with Community Rehabilitation Companies, National Probation Service, Jobcentre Plus, Work Programme, National Careers Service, housing associations, community health services and other local providers.


Diversity and Inclusion graphic

Connecting Choices champions National Inclusion Week

The Connecting Choices programme has been celebrating National Inclusion Week which runs between 27 September – 3 October. National Inclusion Week aims to celebrate everyday inclusion in all its forms.…
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