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

And with a national budget of £1.5 billion, it is clear the Government understands the significance of adult education. 

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, 2020) 

So we have created a full guide to help organisations understand the Adult Education Budget, what it is and how it can be used to support more adult learners to achieve. 


Table of contents    

What is AEB (Adult Education Budget)?

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 ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency), with an entire budget of £1.5 billion. 

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




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

Giving more adultthe confidence they need to build their skillset through personalised supportwhich can be tailored to their cognitive profile and level of study. 

And allowing providers to use more of their annual allocation to directly identify and support the needs of adult learners, as well as providing support and best-practice training for staff. 

Want to know more? 


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

Learning Support Funding is there to help providers to meet the needs of their learner and cover the costs of a learner’s support provisions, such as reasonable adjustments. 

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 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 (AEB) 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 learners’ programme.  
  • Ongoing monthly evidence of support.  

At the start of a learner’s programme, providers should be identifying their learners who would benefit from learning support and create an individualised learner record (ILR) for these learners.  

In the funding rules, it states:  

“This includes individuals who self-declare a learning difficulty or disability, and those who do not have a diagnosis of a learning difficulty or disability but in relation to whom the main provider has identified to us a learning need.” (ESFA, 2020)  

Basically, learners do not require a formal diagnosis to receive support.  

To see the full end-to-end process and evidence pack requirements, you can look at our LSF1 funding guide here.

How much funding does each learner receive?

The ESFA provides a flat rate of £150 a month between the from and to dates specified on the Individualised Learner Report (ILR)usually the learner’s start and end dates. 

The funding is taken out of the providers prime allocation for AEB. 

The ESFA expects the total earned from the monthly rate to cover the provider’s costs. 

If the monthly cost of providing support to a learner goes above the fixed monthly rate of £150, and you have evidence of the excess, you can claim for this excess through the Earnings Adjustment Statement (EAS). 

The learner must be receiving learning support on the last day of the month to receive LSF for that month. For example, if you enter 29 October as the ‘date applies to’ on the ILR, you will not receive LSF for October. 

Why claim LSF1 through the Adult Education Budget?

With millions of pounds going underspent in AEB, what better way to ensure this money isn’t wasted than by using it to support individual learners in adult education? 

There isn’t one! 

Learner support is a high priority, especially for adult learning courses that target some of the most disadvantaged learners. 

It can help to create more accessibility and inclusivity in adult education and reduce reliance on sub-contractors. 

When learners receive support tailored to their identified needs, it enables them to participate, progress effectively, and ultimately complete their training course. This success can lead to new training and employment opportunities.  

When learners don’t receive proper support, they are more likely to feel stressed and drop out of their course, preventing further progress. 

Claiming Learning Support Funding gives providers the funding and support to: 

  • Have a robust approach to identifying adults with a learning difficulty or disability.
  • Ensure staff have the necessary skills to be confident in supporting adult learners with an identified need. 
  • Invest in resources to support learners with an identified need. 
  • Review processes to ensure they are fit for purpose for adult learners with a learning difficulty/disability. 
  • Remove any unnecessary barriers and smooth out pinch points in the operations to create a better overall learner experience. 
  • Retain learners who might otherwise struggle to complete their training course. 
  • Demonstrate to Ofsted how they identify and respond to individual needs and support improved outcomes for all learners. 

With growing need for a blended approach, providers must still ensure that learners receive appropriate support, and there is clear evidence of this support, even with remote learning. 

Can you claim AEB for shorter adult education courses? 

The ESFA calculate LSF1 payments for each full calendar month where organisations show evidence of the support provided. You can only claim for courses that cover at least one whole calendar month. If you offer courses that are one month long in total but comprise of two partial months, these will not be eligible. 

Cognassist provides support on the evidence you will need to collect at the outset of and during the learner’s course. However, with this evidence in place, you can subsequently claim for the same learner if they choose to progress onto a separate or successive course using the same ILR and continued monthly evidence of the support provided. 

What is the minimum course length that Cognassist covers?

We have modified the Cognassist platform to allow learners in adult education to benefit from our support in as little as three months, with more intensive and accelerated support 

Therefore, providers of back-to-work training and adult education courses will be able to identify learners with a need and claim the available funding to facilitate better all-round support. 

How to avoid clawback

This is obviously a big one for providers.   

Even the idea of clawback prevents organisations from claiming  funding  in the first place.  

But it is avoidable.  

Building your support provision into your organisation’s processes and policies, using scalable tools to help you evidence the support learners receive, helps create best practice procedures.   

Creating internal audits and testing for errors puts providers in a strong position for audit by the ESFA – it’s good prep for Ofsted inspections too! 

Read more about auditing best practices here. 

Download our adult education resources

We have multiple useful documents that provide insight and advice on how to support adults in education. 

To understand more about the decisions of adult learners, the barriers they face and how you can support a wider cohort of adult learners.

Download our practical handbook

What’s included?

  • How to understand the needs of your adult learners.
  • Best practice support for adult learners.
  • How to accurately demonstrate intent, implementation and impact to Ofsted.
  • How to build a learning journey with high impact support.
  • Best practices on AEB funding and evidencing.
How to support adult learners handbook