What is the Adult Education Budget (AEB)?

6 mins read

Courses funded by the Adult Education Budget (AEB) are a vital stepping stone for personal and career development for many adults.  

The Adult Education Budget is allocated to devolved mayoral authorities and specific organisations every year. 

Yet millions of pounds from this allocation go unspent each year. Money that could be used to support more adult learners throughout their programme, even for shorter courses.  

For providers with AEB contracts, you no doubt want to ensure your budget isn’t wasted, especially when many other providers receive a lower budget or no budget at all.   

But it should also be used effectively.   

To the best possible benefit of the learners, rather than diverting it all to resource-heavy sub-contractors.  

And the funding has flexibility built-in to allow you to provide greater personalisation and support for these learners.  

“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.” (ESFA, 2021)  

So we want to help break down the Adult Education Budget, what it is and how it can be used to support more adult learners to achieve.  

What is the Adult Education Budget (AEB)?


The Adult Education Budget is used to fund training opportunities for adults and enables providers to target and support the most disadvantaged learners.

The funding stream itself is allocated each year through devolved combined authorities and is funded by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

To take straight from the ESFA funding rules, the courses covered by the AEB include four legal entitlements and local flexibility:



Many providers may not know that the AEB can also be used to provide support funding for adults with identified learning difficulties or disabilities (LDD) as part of their provision during these courses.

What is Learning Support Funding (LSF1) and how can you claim it through the Adult Education Budget?


Learning support is available to meet the cost of putting in place reasonable adjustments and is there to help adults with identified learning difficulties and disabilities achieve their learning goals.

So the sooner you can identify if a learner experiences difficulties, the sooner you can access funding to help support that learner.

We know re-entering education can be a difficult journey for some people.

Often, individuals who have been away from formal education for a long time, perhaps since leaving school, prefer to ease themselves back into learning. To balance it with their other commitments by taking on short-term or entry level courses.

But just because a course is shorter, it doesn’t mean that people require less support.

Encouraging adult learners at the beginning of their journey can be a great catalyst for further training and opportunities. The kind of progression where people start small and work their way up.

Which means that adult education providers, even for short courses, should ensure they can effectively support learners from day one.

And the Adult Education Budget can help.

The funding stream itself is called LSF1. It is available directly through the ESFA for apprenticeships, but for adult education, it is drawn down from providers’ prime allocation.

To successfully claim LSF1, you need two things:

  • Evidence at the start of a learner’s programme.
  • Ongoing monthly evidence of support.

Initial evidence


The funding rules state that:

“You must:

194.1. carry out a thorough assessment to identify the support the learner needs

194.2. agree and record the outcome of your assessment in the evidence pack

194.3. record all outcomes on the evidence pack and keep all evidence of the assessment of the needs, planned and actual delivery

194.4. report in the ILR that a learner 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. This does not apply to 16 to 18 traineeships without a 16 to 18 study programme (see paragraph 455)”


At the start of a learner’s programme, providers should be identifying their learners who require learning support and complete a needs assessment for each learner to understand and evidence the impact that any identified needs will have on an apprentice’s ability to complete their programme.

And there is more information about this in the funding guidance:

“[T]his can include apprentices who have not previously had a learning difficulty or disability identified, but in relation to whom the main provider has identified a learning difficulty or disability (as defined in Section 26 15ZA(6) of the Education Act 1996)[.]” (ESFA, 2022)

Basically, learners do not require a formal diagnosis to but you do need to show that their difficulties or disabilities would directly affect the learner’s chances of completion.

Monthly evidence


In terms of ongoing support, providers should be evidencing any support they are giving to learners on a monthly basis.

Again, the funding rules state that providers must:

“provide evidence and documented details of the necessary reasonable adjustments that have been delivered in that period.” (ESFA, 2021)

Monthly reviews help to record the outcomes of learning support and make sure the learner is happy with their support. Providers can take this opportunity to talk about what’s working for the learner and what isn’t. Helping to improve the overall quality of learning provisions.

All this forms part of the evidence pack.

The ESFA guidance requires providers to hold details of any disabilities identified, including an initial assessment or discussion of these learning needs, and the impact these have on the apprentice’s chances of completion. As well as details of how you will meet these needs and a record of all outcomes. Providers are required to retain documents that relate to the funding claim for seven years minimum as prescribed by the funding agreement.

LSF1 is there to ensure that all adult learners with an LDD receive the same high equality experience and access to support.

If you want to know more, read our next article on How to use the Adult Education Budget to support LDD or high needs learners.