Funding for training in England

This section of the Training Toolkit outlines the funding landscape for accredited training – and looks at funding opportunities which can support community radio stations to carry out both accredited and non-accredited courses and programmes. This page relates to England; see equivalent info for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.


Funding opportunities for Radio training: introduction

This resource has been put together with the acknowledgement that we are currently working in difficult and challenging times, where cuts to funding are affecting the voluntary and community sector’s ability to deliver services to our communities. Furthermore, government funding for skills and learning is undergoing development, and changes are being made on an on-going basis.

One option in the current landscape is to collaborate with registered training providers – who may have a greater understanding of which courses currently attract government support – and to deliver training in partnership. This option would save on the cost of centre registration, which is often needed to be an independent delivery organisation for many of the recognised training courses.

There are charitable trusts and funding organisations to which community groups can apply for funding. It is important to keep up to date with the changes as new funding can become available and you will also need to check that you fit the criteria to apply. In the current funding landscape, competition is high, and a strong innovative bid and measurable project ideas are a must. Think about what you can offer, what outcomes you are meeting by using radio? Funding is often specific to groups – for example it could be linked to reducing the number of NEET young people, or helping ex-offenders get into employment.


Table 1: Types of training and funding

Type of training Type of funding
Accredited course Skills Funding Agency, via learning provider
Non-accredited course Learner / organisation pays?
In-house training n/a
Grant-funded project social funder (e.g. Esmée Fairbairn, etc)
Service delivery local authority (e.g. council), service provider (e.g. NHS), government


Three models of funding training

There are three main models for accessing funding for training:

  • Delivering accredited courses
  • Grant funding / funding an outcome
  • Government-funded contracts

These may overlap to an extent – they are not mutually exclusive – but below is more detail on each of these models.


Funding for delivering accredited courses

Funding for accredited courses is managed by the Skills Funding Agency, and is paid directly to the learning provider (the fund is sometimes known as the ‘adult skills budget’). You can see a variety of qualifications you could deliver on the Qualifications page. It may be that you would deliver such qualifications in partnership – see the page on Training and Partnerships for more info.

The major principle in funding accredited adult learning is that “funding follows the learner” – meaning that each learning provider gets funding according to how many learners they have on a programme.

Following this principle, since 2013, the SFA has developed a new streamlined funding system for adult skills. The funding per learner that is given to the delivery organisation by the SFA is calculated on the basis of the kind of qualification and the ‘programme weighting’, which is a measure of how resource intensive it is to deliver the particular programme in question, taking into account extra costs associated with disadvantaged learners and delivering provision in some parts of the country. These funding per learner bands are laid out in table 2. These figures are a result of the SFA’s streamlined funding system – the ‘Standard Learner Number’ is no longer used.
Table 2:  Funding rates for certificates and diplomas

Funding Band

Programme Weighting (PW)

A – Base (unweighted rate)

B – Low

C – Medium

D – High

E or G* – Specialist

Certificate (13-24)






Certificate (25-36)






Diploma (37-48)






Diploma (49-72)






Diploma (73-132)






Diploma (133+)








Table 3: Funding rates for smaller awards

Small provision funding band

Programme Weighting (PW)

A – Base (unweighted rate)

B – Low

C – Medium

D – High

E or G* – Specialist

Small Provision (1)






Small Provision (2)






Small Provision (3) – Awards 3 Credits






Small Provision (6) – Awards 6 credits






Small Provision (9) – Awards 9 credits






Small Provision (12) – Awards 12 credits







Note on bands 1 and 2: though funding is being withdrawn for awards other than 3, 6, 9 and 12 credits, the SFA will fund some 1- and 2-credit qualifications as well as some small qualifications designed to support the progression of learners with learning difficulties or disabilities, or both, and to help the unemployed back into work. The very small qualifications approved for funding will be funded at a rate of £50 per credit before programme weightings are applied.



Table 4: Funding bands for certain qualifications

Qualification Funding Band (no. of credits)
GCE AS or A2 Level Certificate (13-24)
GCE A Level Diploma (37-48)
GCSE Certificate (13-24)
GCSE short course Small Provision (6)
Adult Certificates in ESOL Certificate (13-24)
Adult Certificates in ESOL (Speaking and listening) Small Provision (6)
Functional Skills in English and maths Certificate (13-24)
Functional Skills in IT Small Provision (6)



Table 5: Programme weightings for selected programme types

SSA SSA Tier 2 Description Most Likely Programme Weighting


Information and Communication Technology A – Base


ICT Practitioners B – Low (up to Level 1)
C – Medium (Level 2 +)


ICT for Users A – Base (up to Level 1)
B – Low (Level 2 +)


Arts, Media and Publishing A – Base


Performing Arts B – Low


Crafts, Creative Arts and Design C – Medium


Media and Communication B – Low


Publishing and Information Services A – Base


Education and Training B – Low


Teaching and Lecturing B – Low


Direct Learning Support B – Low


Preparation for Life and Work A – Base


Foundations for Learning and Life A – Base


Preparation for Work A – Base

Source: SFA, 2013/14 Simplified Funding Rates


Some points to consider:

  • Funding rates for qualifications cover all aspects of a learner’s journey from initially entering the skills system to productive employment, and are designed to provide incentives for achieving learning goals and getting into work.
  • Providers need to supply to the SFA the information needed to calculate funding through a streamlined Individualised Learner Record (ILR) collection system and process.
  • SFA maintains a policy of payment being related to results. For each qualification SFA will hold back 20% of the funding, to be paid when the learner achieves their qualification. The funding system will continue to pay job outcome payments for eligible learners and enable providers to earn half of their achievement payment when a learner leaves early without achieving their qualification, and enters work.
  • As of January 2014, the SFA will fund qualifications only at 3, 6, 9 and 12 credits “on the basis that qualifications with these credit values currently reflect the majority of provision that delivers meaningful skills.” Qualifications with credit values of 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10 and 11 will no longer be funded for new starts, unless they are identified as being exceptions to this rule.


SFA funding rules are at:


Funding an outcome / grant funding

An inherent part of your mission as a community radio station is to deliver social gain. You are a community-minded organisation making a difference in the world – you are an agent of social change.

Funders want to make a difference in the world – and, each according to their focus and mission, they want to fund particular social outcomes. So, in doing the sort of work that you do (or in designing the kinds of projects you want to do), you need to identify what is the social outcome that you are helping to achieve. This is your selling point as an organisation – this is your pitch to the funding body – whether it is in the form of a grant, or a service which is being commissioned or contracted. It is worth identifying what funders will be most likely to fund a particular type of project, and to approach these funders with specific proposals – rather than either a ‘scattergun’ approach (i.e. sending funding applications to every funder), or a ‘copy and paste’ approach (i.e. re-using the same proposal for multiple funders).


Funder About the funding
Arts Council Individuals and VCS organisations can apply. Projects must be arts related lasting up to three years. Grants available are between £1,000 and £100,000. There is no deadline and you can apply at any time.
Awards For All Not for profit organisations and groups can apply. Funding is for specific projects or activities, which can include training and development activities for staff and volunteers. The grants available are between £300 and £10,000. You are able to apply any time but you must submit three months before project starts. Applications are usually decided within 30 days.
Esmee Fairbairn Esmée Fairbairn funds focuses on education and cultural sectors. Voluntary and Community Sector organisations can apply. Projects should focus on education and enable people who are disadvantaged to participate more fully in society.
Paul Hamlyn Foundation Open to charitable and not-for-profit organisations. Funds innovative projects looking at change in areas such as tackling school exclusion and truancy, pilot activity, knowledge exchange and development/transfer of best practice. Applications can be made at any time.
Henry Smith Charity Open to community organisations that deliver projects which provide support to young people at risk, particularly those living in areas of deprivation. There are two funds: Main Grants which will fund projects over £10,000 and a Small Grants fund which will support projects less than £10,000 Trustees meet quarterly in March, June, September and December.
Youth in Action For Organisations working with young people (15 – 25 years). Funding is for programmes which promote informal and non-formal learning and exchanges of young people between the UK and other countries; also specific support for youth workers to develop skills through the Support Measures Programme (job shadowing, study visits, training courses, networking).
Children in Need Provide grants to projects in the UK which focus on children and young people who are disadvantaged.
Tudor Trust Fund a wide range of projects which seek to effect lasting change in their communities. They focus on smaller groups led by people of vision.
Unltd Funding for Social Entrepreneurs creating change in their communities.


There are also opportunities for funding via the European social fund as well as other EU programmes such as Grundtvig, and Interreg.

There is also funding to undertake training, through the BBC and Creative Skillset Funding for Radio and Audio Training programme, which consists of bursaries for individuals working on a freelance basis in the UK radio and audio industry to spend on short courses or other short term training and development solutions as part of their continuing professional development (CPD). Funding can be applied for up to 80% of the combined fees, travel and accommodation costs of your training to a maximum of £800 inclusive of VAT. See info from Creative Skillset.


Government-funded training contracts

Community Learning is one of the strands of FE funding administered by the SFA/BIS (albeit a small strand – worth £210 million as opposed to £2.8 billion for adult skills, i.e. accredited courses). Funding for Community Learning is now being channelled into Community Learning Trusts (CLTs) – following a 2012/13 pilot scheme to assess how Community Learning Trusts would work. Community Learning Trusts are not fixed in shape or scope – though they are most likely to be relatively large partnerships or consortiums focused on a specific locality or region.

SFA’s funding guidelines state that Community Learning organisations must provide: “evidence how they will operate in strong local partnerships to ensure their objectives are underpinned by engagement and consultation with communities, local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and other key local stakeholders.”

In practice, the significant majority of the Community Learning budget is being managed and delivered through colleges and local authorities. The Community Learning budget has remained static at £210 million per year since 2006/7, and for 2013/14 there are no opportunities for organisations to secure a new CL contract; however, there are opportunities to deliver CL-funded training through sub-contracting arrangements (for example in partnership with a college).

The lead Community Learning organisation(s) in a CLT partnership must hold a direct contract for Community Learning with the Skills Funding Agency.

CLTs are encouraged to target a range of learners, and bring in revenue through a mix of government funds and learners’ fees – in other words, CLTs are encouraged to ask those learners who can pay to pay. SFA funding is being targeted under the principle of using public funding to support disadvantaged people, and to “focus on supporting access and progression for those who are disadvantaged and furthest away from the labour market” (New Challenges, New Chances). This may be an opportunity for community radio organisations to highlight your ability to engage people from disadvantaged circumstances, and your track record for doing so.

The Community Learning budget encompasses several strands that used to exist separately (and with which you might be familiar) – namely: ‘Personal and Community Development Learning’ (PCDL), ‘Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities’ (NLDC), ‘Wider Family Learning’ (WFL) and ‘Family English, Maths and Language’ (FEML).

Community Learning links:


Government-funded tenders for learning

Training providers wishing to tender for education and vocational training services which are government funded such as those funds available by the Skills Funding Agency and Young People’s Learning Agency must be registered on ACTOR to be considered for funding.

ACTOR stands for the Approved College and Training Organisation Register, which is the online e-tendering application for the procurement of education and vocational training services. If you are intending to register on ACTOR you will be asked for your UKRLP (UK Register of Learning Providers registration number) Therefore, it is also a requirement that you register on UKRLP first. Registration on the UKRLP means that an individual or organisation has been verified against a recognised legal source. Further information can be found at


Contracts Finder

All national government-funded tenders, contracts and funding agreements over £10,000 (including funding which is connected to education and vocational training) are available to view via Contracts Finder This service allows people to search for government-funded opportunities in one place. Organisations can sign up to receive email alerts.

The funds listed in this table are available across England – there are other funds available to organisations located in particular regions or localities, which should be looked into as they will provide access to local funding streams. An example of this for Manchester is Manchester Community Central.

It is advisable to make contact with the funder to talk through your ideas and check your eligibility against the criteria, confirming maximum amounts of funding available, groups they prioritise and priority areas for funding in advance of putting together your application. A lot of the funders also list previous applications which have been successful which can give you an idea if your project is something which they may support.

There are lots of websites which provide free information about what current funding is available. Some links include:

  • Funding Central is a free website for VCS organisations that provides access to funding and finance opportunities, plus a wealth of tools and resources. The website is operated by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations
  • Grantnet is a free grants database available to small community organisations once they have registered on the website.
  • Grantfinder is a national grants and policy database and includes details in excess of 8,000 funding opportunities.
  • Grants4 portal is an online information service that provides information on funding opportunities that are available in your local area (please note that not all local authorities have taken up the service