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Using Government Funding for Training Courses

There are a number of ways using government funding for training courses. Each has its pros and cons. As is the way with these things there isn’t a single best way. Most care providers should end up with a mix of funding solutions depending on their staff makeup and requirement. The article is concerned mostly with funding RQF Diplomas (the replacement for NVQs).
It is not intended to provide a detailed explanation of the funding rules, which can be extremely complex. The purpose here is to provide a very brief overview of the most common types of government funding for training care staff. Care providers will be able to make better more informed decisions about which government funding for training is available and what will work best for them.


The apprenticeship landscape and funding has changed dramatically with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and the Apprenticeship Standards. How they are funded and how they are delivered has changed significantly, with a major impact upon care providers. I’ll deal with funding fist and then explain a little about the delivery

Apprenticeship Funding

If you have a wage bill over £3m you will pay an Apprenticeship Levy. It’s taken alongside your PAYE and NI but it goes into a digital account controlled by you. You can then spend this digital money on Apprenticeships. An organisation with a wage bill under £3m, does not pay the Levy. The organisation can still access Apprenticeships but must pay 5% of the cost. For a L2 and L3 in Care, this works out at about £150 per person. You pay this to your training provider and depending on the agreement you have with the provider it may be split into monthly payments e.g. £15 a month for 10 months.
20% of the Apprentice’s time doing the apprenticeship must be spent in “off the job training”. They must be paid for this. This is usually the issue for employers, not the 5% contribution as for a full-time member of staff its a significant cost. Some of the cost can be recovered for this wages element from Skills for Care. So it is possible to reduce the cost. However it can only be done at the end and thus it’s a cash flow issue during the apprenticeship

Apprenticeship Delivery

The old frameworks have been replaced by new Apprenticeship Standards. Standards are delivered during learning and then tested at an End Point Assessment (EPA) run by a third party who is not the training provider. Essentially it’s like GCSEs, the teacher (tutor) teaches a curriculum (the Standards) and the pupil (employee/learner) is tested at the end by an outside body (the EPA). The EPA then award a Pass, Merit or Distinction. The Apprenticeship Standards do not always contain a Diploma, some do and some don’t. In care, the Diploma is part of the Standard so by doing an Apprenticeship in care the learner also does a Diploma (NVQ) in care. Learners must also undertake Maths and English functional skills and pass them to achieve the Apprenticeship.


  • Funded
  • Good for new entrants into the sector
  • Encourages people into the sector
  • Very robust learning
  • High staff retention rate
  • Significantly aids recruitment and retention
  • Additional funding available from Skills for Care


  • There are eligibility criteria
  • Maths and English put some care staff off
  • The format of having to sit and End Point Assessment puts some staff off
  • The employer needs to pay 5% (non Levy)
  • The employer needs to finance 20% off the job training
  • Takes a 12 -18 months, no fast track for experienced staff

Advanced Learning Loan

The employee can take out a student loan called an Advanced Learning Loan from the government Student Loan Company (same as university loans) to cover vocational qualifications. This includes Diplomas in Care at levels 3, 4 and 5. (A Diploma is the new name for an NVQ). Students take out the loan personally and use it to pay the training provider (this is done automatically via an electronic account, the student doesn’t actually get the money). It can be used to fund the Diploma only and it can be delivered in a more traditional way, i.e. the Diploma is taught and assessed by the training provider. No EPA is required. As it is a student loan it doesn’t have to be paid back until the student earns more than £25k per year. As most care staff will never reach that point it has become a popular way of financing Diplomas. If a student does get a promotion and move up to management then the loan is seen as worthwhile and can be paid back. The downside is that finding a training provider with access to Advance Learner Loan funding who is also a specialist in care is not easy. 


  • It’s an easy way to finance qualification
  • Loans are not means-tested
  • The liability rests with the leaner, not the company
  • Maths and English not required
  • Can be fast-tracked (with rules of the awarding organisation)


  • There are eligibility criteria, not available for everyone
  • No funding for L2 Diplomas (3, 4 and 5 only)
  • Some employees put off by taking out a loan
  • Employees are free to leave and take the learning with them as it’s theirs
  • Your choice of training provider may be limited

Download the Advanced Learner Loans qualifications catalogue 2019 to 2020 here

Skills for Care Workforce Development Fund

Care providers can claim back funding for money spent on qualifications from Skills for Care Workforce Development Fund (WDF). In order to be eligible, the employer must be registered on the Skills for Care National Minimum Data Set (NMDS) and have it up to date. Candidates must have completed the qualification and received the certificate. The employer then submits a claim to either SfC or to a local care partnership working on behalf of SfC. Cash is then refunded the following amounts;


  • Super flexible and control is with the employer
  • If the employee leaves the payments stop, no further liability
  • Can be fast-tracked (with rules of the awarding organisation)
  • No Maths and English requirements
  • No EPA
  • More control for the employer


  • The employer must pay out before claiming back – cash flow (Care Skilled offer a monthly payment plan)
  • SfC money isn’t unlimited, once its gone there will be no ability to claim cash
  • If the employee leaves the employer has paid out cash
  • Liability for payment rests with the employer (although this can be mitigated by having a Reimbursement of Training Fees Agreement with the employee)
  • The NMDS must be up to date

There are numerous other smaller qualifications also available, download the full list here

Teaching methods helped with retention and understanding of information.

Reablement Support Worker | Nexxus Care

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