Q&A with the apprenticeship service developers

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This topic contains 83 replies, has 25 voices, and was last updated by  CatherineGilhooly 2 years, 4 months ago.

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  • itsme

    A single report, not complicated, but one that matches information on the Remittance that actually tallies with names of who we have been paid for.

    Our data NEVER EVER matches what we are expecting against the reports available through the HUB.

    Please could the reports be formatted into a simple document that can be understood.



    Some of the queries I had have already been asked.

    Others – Cohort – it would be nice if the cohorts had a date with them so we can tell when the employer added them. Ideally on the main page of the cohort list.

    Manage your apprentices – already mentioned – would be nice to get a report to excel of who is live.

    From employers and what they use – some struggle to create cohorts and wondered if there was a “help” section there for them on what to do (could already be there but I cannot see)


    The recently published roadmap has no mention of an API to allow the developers of MI systems to connect to TAS programmatically. In previous discussions with agency staff this was talked about as an aspiration. Is this now off the radar?

    This feature would allow MI systems to reconcile themselves with the service and let providers fix issues such as double lock errors proactively.


    Emma Kershaw


    I would like to agree with all comments made above, as a small provider it is impossible to accurately predict our monthly income with these reports.
    Prior to May 17 our money calculations from the reports where to the penny with the remittance, now we have never had a true match.
    Can we please have a ‘funding summary report’ with the actual correct amounts when we have processed our ILR return, so we can understand cash flow.
    Additionally with remittance can we have a breakdown as suggested on what lines relate to, this month we have had something called Traineeship non CCM (which I have never seen before or understand, and it has no contract line either) as well as payments showing capped but then reconciled for the same month i.e effectively balancing out so makes no sense.
    Lastly the co-investment report is not showing correctly all co-investment collected for 16-17 is not pulling through for employers who have already paid, the small employers of 16-18 are also showing on the repot as well.

    Any help in reconciliation and clearer reports would be really welcomed. Thanks Emma



    Firstly, as already mentioned, remittance statements are now so unwieldy as to be almost impossible to understand and reconcile to submitted MIS data. Also annoying to not have them in excel or csv format, given that days of reconciling with a calculator and a pen appear to be over.

    Secondly, I need to understand the consequences of coding a new FM36 learner incorrectly as Levy or non-levy, submitting this through one or more returns an subsequently correcting this. This could include an incorrect enrolment or a late notified withdrawal for a levy funded apprenticeship where there is a time lag:

    • Does DAS and the ILR net off any incorrect payments in the following return?
    • If a levy payment has been made incorrectly, will the be automatically refunded to the
      employer at the next return?
    • Will providers be getting an unexpected reconciliation at year-end




    a couple of things i don’t think have been mentioned above.

    Could we get a learner’s cohort reference code output within the APPS monthly report, this would allow the individual breakdown to be linked back to employer cohort. This will be especially useful down the line when we start to see high volumes of learners on the payment report where they have multiple lines due to them switching employers or having renegotiated their prices when the EPA cost becomes known. When that happens then the Software supplier ID will no longer be unique.

    Can the “Co-Payment due in year” column on the Apps report be fixed so it actually contains some values (i assume that will also fix the % collected column as well).

    On the Data mismatch report, we need to see learner end mismatches as well as learner start mismatches.. so if the employer stops a learner in November but the provider stops them in December, you wouldn’t currently see that the December payment was missing without checking line by line and no provider should have to do that on 1000 + lines each month.

    The ILR match for start date really needs to be +/- 30 days rather than in month. Currently you can have a situation where AS says the predicted start is 01.01.2018, if the learner is submitted on the ILR as 31/12/2017 then it’s a fail even though it is only 1 day different, but the ILR saying 31/01/2018 would pass and it is 30 days out. The funding and audit guidance is +/- 7 days accurate which is a better guide.

    it would be useful to have in the end of month reports (separate to the apps report i would suggest) a list of all the lines that were on the previous month’s report but are not present on this months, for example if a learner has been removed then that income loss will be hidden from view but will affect the overall remittance values.

    now that there are so many categories on remittance, it would be useful to have report learner by learner with the values in month attributed to each of either the entry number of contract numbers from the remittance so that it’s easy to see how the remittance is made up.

    mentioned above but again.. an ability to export all the learners from AS with their references and status so we can reconcile against MIS systems.

    Ben F (Consultant to multiple providers)




    I don’t think this has been mentioned so apologies if it has. Could we have a report, on a monthly basis, to show which employer’s accounts have run out of funds. At the moment I’m having to do a lot of filtering and hiding of columns on the spreadsheet.

    Many thanks


    Matt Collishaw

    Regrading the Co-investment report.

    1. As stated above the percentage collected does not work

    2. We have apprentices that at fully fulled and have the SEM flag tick yet they are still showing in this report. I believe this has happened because the SEM flag was missed in a previous month this has been corrected yet they are still showing. The report should update as per the updated ILR. We are all human and all make mistakes 🙂

    3.The report should calculate the ‘maximum/expected total 10% to be collected’ in the funding year based on the number of month between start and end date in a separate column for each learner. In addition to the total column we currently have that cumulatively adds every month. Some employers do not want to pay monthly, this is also very confusing to look it is a YTD total and not maximum/expected required 10% figure.

    4. There should be ‘maximum/expected 10% total payments collected’ based on the same criteria of point 3 so these 2 columns can be easily reconciled

    Thank you for taking the time to listen to all the feededback.



    Update from ESFA

    Thank you everyone for your detailed and thoughtful questions. As you can see we have lots to think about and get back to you on.

    Our developers are working through all the queries and also passing on bigger picture questions to other colleagues in the apprenticeship service.

    We will keep posting replies this week, but replying to every point in an accurate and comprehensive manner will take us into next week, so please do bear with us.



    Questions from DaveJ:
    1. When I click on manage your apprentices and then filter by eg employer or qual, could we have the total learners showing?

    2. Employers are crying out to be able to see projections of their levy pots and spend.

    Reply from ESFA
    1. Thank you for your suggestion, we will take this idea back to the team that plans our service development.

    2. The team are currently working on a forecasting tool for employers as one of our highest priorities. We are looking to release this feature in the next few months.



    I strongly believe that there should be some sort of communication channel that you use to tell us of issues that you are aware of, that you actively encourage providers to follow.

    Too often we get ourselves finding faults with processes that we endure, raise them either on here or with the service desk to find that they’ve been issues that have been known for some time. There should be something we can look at to be able to see what issues are known within the SFA, what is being done about it and when it can be expected to be fixed.

    The first post in response to this thread showed 6 separate threads discussing the problems with the reconciliation of payments. So even though there are discussions going on about it, even though you know there’s a problem, providers are still feeling the need to come on here and raise it as a concern because they didn’t know about it. I’ve then had other training providers contacting me, asking if I’ve any idea what is going wrong, because they don’t know about this place and struggle to get a coherent answer from the data service.

    This should not be provider led to the extent that it is currently.


    Caspar Verney

    Just to echo again the above post from @access and to make another point from mine earlier, in addition to being able to see what is recognised and in the pipe-line, it is important that users can both influence priorities and raise fresh issues and get them take on board. FeConnect is full of such things but it is rare that anyone in the ESFA or any other Agency hears what is going on and there needs to be simpler, more direct lines of communication. I know there is the Service Desk, but it is clear from FeConnect that users do not have confidence that concerns put to them are either understood properly or ever passed on up the line for real acton.


    Transfers of learners between training providers does not seem to be supported.

    The particular scenario is where an apprentice started post levy in a previous academic year and changes training provider.


    The user experience for large training providers isn’t great.

    1. Provider uploads are limited to individual cohorts with each requiring an individual upload file. Where there are thousands of learners and hundreds of cohorts then this is both bureaucratic and error prone.
    2. There is a strong emphasis placed on geographic proximity when employers search for apprenticeship providers but there is no way for providers to indicate national coverage when entering their details into the apprenticeship service site.


    Questions from Matt Collishaw:

    1. Reporting. Is there a report that can be released to identify which incentive payments relate to which learner and their respective employer?

    2. Would it be possible to receive a notification of when an employer ‘Stops’ an apprentice on their digital account And also, a date of when it took effect?

    3. We have just enrolled an apprentice onto the DAS however it appears his ULN is already on the DAS site for another employer\provider. The message you receive tells you there is a duplicate but nothing else. a UKPRN should also be included in the message so this can be identified. as currently we have no information to go on

    Reply from ESFA
    1. Incentives reporting: We are currently working with the Data Collections team to develop a new report for training providers, that details which 90 and 365 day additional payments (for learners entitled to 16-18 funding) have actually been paid to training providers. This will specify which employers the payments need to be passed on to, and the point in time at which the provider was paid (versus the point in time that the amount was earned). We have tested the report design with provider and software supplier user groups and will be adding this to the available reports during the 2017/18 ILR year.

    2. Stop notifications: Thank you for this suggestion. This is something we are currently working on.

    3. ULN query: In these cases, you will need to contact the provider helpdesk. For data protection reasons, we cannot show you the details of training that has happened with another provider. If your employer knows of the other instance of training for that ULN (it may be another provider they have worked with for that learner), they need to ensure that the first record on the apprenticeship service is stopped so that a second record can be added.



    Questions from Chris Bradley

    I would like to ask you to consider how the payments system is set up whereby monthly payments made as confirmed in the period end payment report are frozen and do not reconcile monthly as the old system just phasing out does. This approach is creating a huge amount of confusion when trying to reconcile payments to the ILR data and as seen in the indicative apps funding report which is a true reflection of the ILR data at the period being submitted and paid for. It has worked well for years with the old system, it is transparent and incredibly simple.

    For example if a functional skill is in the ILR in a previous period and then removed for whatever reason, and it does happen, the old system shows the funding as it would have been at the period when it was included but in the period where it is removed this amount in the earlier period goes down as well as in the one when it is removed for.

    In the new system the earlier period payment remains in place but is removed from the most recent period as a deduction which is absolutely correct from the accounting perspective but from the data reconciliation perspective makes this hard to track as the offending qualification or even complete record has disappeared. This is just one example of changes that are inevitable in a minority for apprenticeship provision which are not being transparently reconciled.

    Another example I am involved in is where a small company with a 16-18 apprentice has been mistakenly coded as not less than 50 employees in size at period 1 and then picked up via data analysis and subsequently corrected to a small employer. The first period ends up stuck at requiring a 10% contribution from the employer which is impossible to correct. The employer is not due to and will not pay, an amount cannot be collected and so the ILR remains as no fee collected when the system is expecting one to be taken. The only answer is to reconcile monthly as I am attempting to explain so that at the second period the data at that time can also now see the small employer flag in the first period and kill off the 10% contribution expectation in the reports.

    Reply from ESFA
    Thank you for the feedback – we realise how different the new funding system is for providers, and we are trying to improve the clarity of reporting so that you can follow changes as easily as possible.

    The ‘accounting perspective’ as you rightly put it is a necessity in the new funding model, as we now pay programme funding from employer levy accounts – as a result, one of the principles that we must adhere to is that charges made in the past cannot be undone. If a reconciliation is required, that must now be done as a second transaction at the point at which the reconciliation/data change occurs; we cannot undo the original transaction.

    We need our funding aggregation and final payments to all work in the same way for all apprenticeship funding, so non-levy contracts and English, maths and additional funding payments also need to follow this methodology.

    The old funding models that you mention relied on a relationship between the Agency and the provider, which means that as long as the data is correct by ILR year-end, it is okay for us to constantly re-write past funding views on reports and reconcile through remittance processes.

    As explained above, this is no longer possible as employers need a stable view of which charges have been made (and reconciled) across different points in time.

    Regarding data changes concerning small employer flags – at present, the calculation does not automatically adjust backwards for previous activity that was paid using a different flag (with the small employer flag applied or not); only future payments are affected when the flag is changed. We are building functionality for these data changes to cause backwards adjustments and this will mean that year-to-date funding will be corrected; we expect this to be in place by the R08 data return.



    Question from Paul Taylor
    You say that your are developing reporting within the Apprenticeship Service but how is this being consulted on? It’s important that users are inputting to this as the content and format of the reports are critical to their usefulness.

    The new apprenticeship funding reports are a great example of what happens when reporting design goes wrong. I know that these are not Apprenticeship Service outputs but these also need reviewing as they are incredibly difficult to work with.

    We understand that the consultation and development of the Apprenticeship Service has been aimed at Employers and getting the basic functionality up and running. However, the developers now need to understand how the systems are being used by providers to process apprenticeship starts. I understand that this thread is an attempt at collecting this information but I’d suggest that the consultation needs to be much more detailed than this.

    We have had around 20% of apprenticeship starts left unprocessed each month, partly because the systems that we are using to track and process starts are very difficult and time consuming to use. We will not be unusual in this regard, which will mean Apprenticeship starts are being delayed and this will have an impact for employers and their levy spend and in the Government’s figures.

    Reply from ESFA
    Any new reports and report changes are discussed and user tested with a Technical User Group that the Agency works with to consult on any funding and systems changes. They have an early view of report designs, and we have an ongoing dialogue with them about challenges they are facing with data and reporting, and things that we can improve in the service as a result.

    The report changes here are being consulted through this group, which contains both colleges and private training organisations. If Paul, you would like to join the group, I’m sure we can look at that.

    Also, as this thread is being responded to so positively, we will look to see if we can host more of these Q&A sessions in the future. The feedback we have had is that providers see FE Connect as provider-led – a place in which providers can seek peer to peer support and advice, so we tend not to intervene in the discussion threads for that reason.

    We are also hoping to grow our following on our digital channels – @ESFADigital on Twitter https://twitter.com/esfadigital?lang=en and our ESFA Digital blog: https://sfadigital.blog.gov.uk/

    We use these channels to share up to date information about the service in a timely way, as the apprenticeship service works at a very fast pace, on agile development principles. We would be very happy for providers to engage with us via Twitter.




    1. Ability to search by typing in an employer name on the “manage your apprentices” tab rather than scrolling through the list. We have hundreds of employers in TAS and scrolling through a list that isn’t even in alphabetical order is very time consuming (particularly when the box is so small).

    2. Payment plan visibility for providers when reviewing learners – lots of queries from employers on value of payments expected to come out of their account but currently no visibility. We have to advise them to check their own account.

    3. More ability to edit learner records once they go “live”.

    4. Different permission levels for providers – read only, edit, etc




    Questions from Triese with replies from ESFA

    1. Can an export function be provided so that lists can be exported to excel e.g. cohorts received, learners by employer.

    Reply: We are currently working with the Data Collections team to develop a new report for training providers, that details which 90 and 365 day additional payments (for learners entitled to 16-18 funding) have actually been paid to training providers. This will specify which employers the payments need to be passed on to, and the point in time at which the provider was paid (versus the point in time that the amount was earned). We have tested the report design with provider and software supplier user groups and will be adding this to the available reports during the 2017/18 ILR year.

    2. Notification when an employer stops/pauses funding for a learner and the date they have used.
    Reply: We are currently working on a number of changes in the service to allow employers and training providers to manage their apprentice details more effectively, including making it clearer which apprentice records have been stopped.

    3. A report which shows learners that are in the App Service but not on the ILR – we had a learner who was agreed in the App Service but flagged incorrectly on the ILR as a co-investor and was being paid as a co-investor.

    4. Option to sort the cohort list alphabetically/oldest to newest.

    5. Is it possible to set up a messaging service for employers to send queries to the TP through the App Service – we have had employers create new cohorts to send us a message about a learner already in the system.

    6. Would it be possible to create different levels of access within the provider side of the App Service – people who can edit cohorts without being able to approve them, read only access etc.

    Reply for 3-6:
    Thank you for these suggestions. We will share them with the team looking at future development of the service.

    7. Is it possible to provide more detail when a learner is already in the system about what course they are supposed to be on with who. We had an example of a learner who we could not process because the system said the training dates overlapped with another programme (not with us) the employer had not put them through an apprenticeship with anybody else and the NAS helpline just referred the employer back to us.

    Reply: In these cases, you will need to contact the provider helpdesk to assist further. For data protection reasons, we cannot show you the details of training that has happened with another provider. If your employer knows of the other instance of training for that ULN (it may be another provider they have worked with for that learner), they need to ensure that the first record is on the apprenticeship service is stopped so that a second record can be added – although it sounds like this is not the case in the instance you describe.

    8: All courses that are fundable in an academic year should be able to be picked off the courses dropdown list, they shouldn’t be removed as soon as they pass the end date on LARS.
    For example the Health and Social Care L2 framework expired for new starts on 31/12/2017 and so from 01/01/2018 we could no longer pick that framework from the list even though not all of the learners started pre 31/12/2017 have been processed.

    Reply: We are aware of this issue and we are currently working on a permanent solution for courses that have expired funding. Please be assured that you can now select the frameworks that expired in December and early January as we have gone into the service to enable this.

    9. Can the price on the income reports be split by training price and EPA price?

    Reply: Thank you for the suggestion – we will look at this for the 2018/19 ILR year.

    10. When an employer has paid the contribution can this be taken into account on the income reports. We have learners where the whole contribution has been paid by the employer, yet the co-contribution report still expects a value each month.

    Reply: We are looking at changing the Co-funding Contributions Report in the 2018/19 year to show contributions made in previous funding years; however this information does already exist in column BI of the Monthly Payment Report on the Hub.

    11. We are being asked to calculate future spend for employers – when will this function be in the finance section for employers?

    Reply: The team are currently working on a forecasting tool for employers as one of our highest priorities. We are looking to release this feature in the next few months.



    Question from Jodie Cotaldo

    Is there an online tutorial/webinar that explains each of the reports and the differing data/information each of them show?

    Reply from ESFA
    You should hopefully find this guidance on reporting helpful: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/individualised-learner-record-ilr-check-that-data-is-accurate

    It provides a breakdown of what each report does. And if you use it, please do provide us with feedback on how useful it is or if there are gaps or things that need more explanation.

    In terms of webinars or online tutorials/narrated presentations, this is something we could look at.



    Questions from Hazel Lessiter

    As a training provider, we want to start learners as soon as possible. We are working with employers that have many sites or locations and the one person nominated to deal with the DAS at the employer end will often not have any knowledge about individual learners or their circumstances.

    We currently have to ask the employer to “open” a cohort in order to place learner details in the system. We then add the learners and they are confirmed by the employer – but this closes the cohort and we are back to square one.

    Where a provider is constantly working with an employer, it is really annoying for both provider and employer to have to open new cohorts every month.

    I would like to suggest that a solution would be to allow Providers to open a cohort for an employer, enter the learner details and then forwarding to the employer for confirmation as usual. That would save one step for the employer and avoid the delays of having to contact that one person (who could be away, busy, sick etc) just to be able to start the ball rolling with a cohort being opened.

    Another great help would be to allow Providers to end a learner on the DAS. We are the only ones who have a record and evidence of the last actual learning completed by the learner and we are going to need the date entered on the ILR to agree with the date entered in the DAS. If you allow Providers to enter learner stop/leave dates on the DAS – then the date would be in agreement with the ILR and the evidence held by the provider. At the moment – we have to email the DAS person at the employer end (outside the system) asking if they could please log in and end the learner – we have to provide the end date for them to enter. This can often be delayed resulting in payments being made that should not have been made in the month. By allowing providers the opportunity to stop learners, these payment errors could also be avoided and it would be one less thing for the employer to have to do.

    Reply from ESFA
    Thank you for this feedback. We are looking at ways of making it easier for employers and providers that repeatedly work together to get apprentice details on to the system without the employer having to ‘open’ a cohort each time. It’s really useful to hear your experience and we will bear this in mind in our future development.

    We do not match learning end dates between the ILR and the apprenticeship service; payments are driven by your ILR data so you need to ensure this is correct when an apprentice leaves. You should not have a delay in payments if this is the case.



    Question from Joanne Gogerly

    Can we get more detail on the funds we receive as a provider?
    We currently receive a lump sum with no visibility as to which apprentices the funds relate.

    Reply from ESFA
    If you’re a training provider that gets paid directly from the ESFA for your apprentices, you will be returning your learner data (ILR) to the Hub. We publish a set of detailed reports on the Hub where you can see a breakdown of funding for individual apprentices. These reports are found in the Business Reports tab.

    The funding methodology is explained here: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-technical-funding-guide

    The reports are explained in more detail here: http://www.gov.uk/government/publications/individualised-learner-record-ilr-check-that-data-is-accurate

    I hope that this guidance is helpful to you. Please do get in touch with feedback on the guidance once you’ve used it.



    Question from SamSAT

    Just to add to the reports to view for the 16-18 Incentive Payments, I have been using the Monthly Apps Report to track these payments. The Service Desk have also advised me to use the Main Occupancy Report to show payments however the Main Occupancy Report only shows learners who are on funding model 35.

    The learners receiving the 16-18 payments are all on funding model 36 – which report should I be using to view the payments for the funding model 36 learners?

    Reply from ESFA
    The Apps Monthly Payment Report is for funding model 36 learners (apprenticeship starts after 1 May 2017). All of the reports showing payments for funding model 36 are found in a separate ZIP file, produced at month-end and labelled ‘Apps Period End Reports’. The Main Occupancy Report does not contain any funding model 36 details. I hope that this answers your query.



    Questions from Matt Collishaw

    Just to add to the remittance and the ability to forecast funding as a provider. This is what I was told by the service desk in order to find out EFSA funding received/to come

    ‘There are a number of fields on the Apps Monthly Payment Report that will need to be discounted from the Total Payments column to establish how remittance has been calculated. Firstly, Employer Incentives will need to be removed from the Total Payments as Employer Incentives are paid under a separate piece of remittance. Provider Incentives are included as they are paid in relation to mainstream contracts. Employer / Provider Incentives are shown in column CB and CC for August, CU and CV for September, DN and DO for October and will be available in column EG and EI when all of Novembers reports are available.

    Secondly, the Apps Monthly Payment Report may also include Employer Co-Investment Contributions in any particular month where insufficient funds have been identified in an Employers Levy account. These outstanding payments will then be broken down, in relation to the Funding Rules as 90% paid by ESFA and a further 10% contribution from the Employer and you will need to be claim this directly from the Employer and ensure this is recorded in the ILR when received.’

    I’m sure you can understand expecting provides to do all of this every month is unacceptable there should be a column within the report that calculates the funding to date and year end funding or a totally separate report calculating funding to date and to come.

    This would allow providers to forecast and submit funding claims and better financial planning for colleges as a whole. Any forecasting/planning we are expected to provide should have a report/tools available to help providers.

    Reply from ESFA
    We are working currently with our Finance teams in order to publish clear guidance on reconciling remittance figures.

    The total co-funding contributions received in the previous funding year as well as this year (from August onwards) are shown in columns BH to BM on the Monthly Payment report. This includes representation of the percentage of contributions that are expected that have been collected for you to keep track.



    Question from Its’Me
    A single report, not complicated, but one that matches information on the Remittance that actually tallies with names of who we have been paid for.

    Our data NEVER EVER matches what we are expecting against the reports available through the HUB.

    Please could the reports be formatted into a simple document that can be understood.

    Reply from ESFA
    We are working with Finance colleagues on clarifying the mapping between funding reports and remittance statements. We appreciate your feedback and apologise for the lack of clarity at present.

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