ESFA today (27 Jun) updated their information and assurance certificate for in-scope providers and employer-providers who subcontract ESFA funding. 

Providing external assurance on subcontracting controls

This document provides guidance on the requirement set out in our funding agreements and associated funding and performance management rules.

You must read this guidance alongside the full wording of the requirement and the associated subcontracting funding rules.

ESFA set out in their funding agreements and funding rules the requirement for providers ESFA fund to obtain an annual report from an external auditor that provides assurance on their arrangements to manage and control their delivery subcontractors. The provider must send a certificate to them each year, to confirm that they have received the report from the external auditor.

The purpose of this document is to give providers additional information about this requirement and outline the information ESFA need from them each year.

This guidance must be read alongside their funding agreements and the associated subcontracting funding rules for the provision being delivered.

ESFA will no longer routinely update this publication on an annual basis. Instead, ESFA will revise it as and when required to reflect any future changes to relevant funding agreements and funding rules.

Providers in scope

Providers are in scope if they have entered into subcontracts to deliver provision with:  

an aggregate value of more than £100,000 each financial year (for 2017-18, from 1 May 2017 to 31 March 2018) for new apprenticeship starts from 1 May 2017.

or

an aggregate value of more than £100,000 for the delivery of all other adult provision each funding year, including apprenticeship starts before 1 May 2017.

If a provider is in scope to obtain an external audit report for both 5a and 5b above, a single combined report is required.

Definitions

A subcontractor is a separate legal entity that has an agreement with a provider to deliver any element of the education and training ESFA fund. This includes delivery of apprenticeship training and/or on-programme assessment for new apprenticeships that started from 1 May 2017.

An external auditor is a professionally qualified person from an organisation external to the provider that is able to provide an independent report on their subcontracting systems and controls. The person should be registered with an appropriate professional body. For the sake of clarity, the external auditor cannot be an employee, director, trustee, shareholder or any other similar party with a vested interest in the provider, irrespective of whether their normal role is to carry out their audit work. The external auditor does not necessarily have to be a provider’s existing external auditor.

Process

The provider selects and engages an external auditor that fulfils the definition above.  

The external auditor must be able to sign the certificate provided.

The provider obtains a report from their chosen external auditor that provides assurance on the systems and controls they have in place, in the relevant year, for managing subcontracted delivery.

The report must reflect the provider’s end-to-end subcontracting process and the subcontracting requirements set out in their funding agreements and the associated funding rules for the respective year.

ESFA are not prescribing the process that the auditor must follow in undertaking the assignment. It is the provider’s role to agree this with their auditor.  

Once the report has been completed, the provider’s accounting officer or senior responsible person must review it. Examples of the senior responsible person are chief executive, managing director, principal or their equivalent.  

The provider’s accounting officer or senior responsible person must sign the certificate. The auditor must also sign the certificate. ESFA will not accept transmittal letters or other forms of letter as a replacement for the certificate.

When the certificate has been completed, it must be sent to this email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This must be done by 31 July each year (for 2017-18, this date is 14 September 2018). A copy of the report does not need to be sent to the ESFA, but ESFA reserve the right to request a copy. ESFA will review it as part of their compliance arrangements.  

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