We are working with technology partners to replace CTS

Funding Information and Processing System - or FIPS - is now live.

FIPS support

FIPS technical specification requirements

To maximise the benefits of FIPS, Training Providers need to check they have the minimum technical specification:

Using two systems 

Training Providers are required to use CTS for all claims relating to MAs and FIPS for all new starts.

Please note: For all new starts on FIPS you will need to use the revised Training Agreement found on the Modern Apprenticeships Training Provider area.

If an individual completes an MA while in CTS before progressing to the next level, leaving details should be added to CTS and the progression new start added to FIPS.

If an MA has been entered against an incorrect qualification in CTS, training providers should contact their Skills Investment Adviser to re-activate the correct qualification in their contract on CTS. They will then be required to add leaving details and create a new start in CTS.

Adopt an Apprentice

Adopt an Apprentice applications should now be raised via FIPS. The current application process has not changed and can be used to enter the information to FIPS. The Funding Assistance Agreement will be generated by FIPS once the online application has been approved by SDS. For more information please review the Adopt an Apprentice videos.

Benefits

A new system has been long-awaited and brings many advantages which have been requested by Training Providers. Benefits of FIPS include:

  • The system is a single automated service for administering all payments, programmes and incentives
  • All contract information will be kept online 
  • Training Providers will be able to re-forecast starts and spend
  • The process of requesting contract changes is streamlined and integrated 
  • FIPS is a robust, modern platform underpinned by the latest Microsoft technology
  • The new system allows Training Providers to effectively manage their contract 
  • MA starts and claims can be saved in draft format until they are ready for submission
  • Live reporting can be downloaded by each Training Provider
  • The new system facilitates validation and highlights outstanding tasks

Verification by individuals and employers 

FIPS enables SDS to better automate processes, and will also provide greater assurance around the use of public funding. This topic has featured in the news recently due to the publication of the National Audit Office’s report on Apprenticeships in England.

A key change is that all starts and payments made will be verified by the individual or their employer in response to automated emails/SMS messages and reminders.

Training Providers will be able to track and prompt individuals to respond using the system alerts. It is important that your induction processes and review/assessment meetings with apprentices will make them aware of the importance of responding to emails/SMS texts.

Training and feedback

Following awareness sessions, SDS training videos are available for users to build and refresh their knowledge of the system.

As with any IT system, we are aware of further refinements that we would wish to make for further releases. SDS will be developing feedback mechanisms for Training Providers to input to this process and look forward to working with you on this.

Your support and understanding throughout the introduction of FIPS is much appreciated.

If you have any questions regarding FIPS please contact FIPS@sds.co.uk

Questions and answers

During webinar training sessions, we recorded questions from Training Providers about FIPS. You can now view our questions and answers document for our responses.

How-to guides and presentations

Accessing FIPS for the first time? Read the following guides:

SDS have created a handful of how-to guides to supplement the video guides below:

Use this presentation to work through the FIPS validation process:

Video guides

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Session 1 - How to access FIPS and enter a new start

Introduction to FIPS & sign on - An introduction to the Funding Information and Processing System (FIPS) the benefits of the new system and how to log on.

MA Contract - How to view your Modern Apprenticeship contract on FIPS reflected in the detail shown on the hardcopy contract. This includes value and volume limits split by SDS area, occupational group, age and level.  Shows that all approved starts are deducted from the contract volumes on the contract and total spend against value is captured.

Individual Search and Create Application - Explains the three stages to entering a start on FIPS. And covers the key documents required before you can begin the process.  The first stage is to search for the individual and if found selecting them to create the application or add the new individual details and create the application.  Explains how you can create a draft and once completed save, validate and confirm. 

Assignment - The third stage of registering an MA on FIPS once the Training Provider declaration is accepted is submitting the assignment for approval.  Covers key areas to review before submitting and how to view the payment plan details.

Session 2 - How to make claims and process leavers

Bulk expense authorisation - A review of the bulk expense authoriation process for travel or lodgings and pre-requisites to submitting a request for authorisation. 

Bulk Expenses Claims – Covers checks before a bulk expense claim can be submitted.  All MAs included in the claim have expenses selected on their assignment, that expenses are approved in your contract and sufficient funds remain and that a bulk expenses authorisation has been approved.

Payment Claims – Covers start payments and milestone and outcome claims.  Outlines the documents you will require to hold before you make a claim and confirmation that the MA is registered with the Sector Skills Organisation and Qualification Awarding Body.  Shows where you can process claims, explains the claim declaration and mandatory information linked to payment claims. 

View Claims Processed – How to view the claims process via the payment entity. Covers the options to view payments for example payments sent to finance or ready to send to finance.  Shows how each view can be filtered including using the provider reference fields to sort the claims information processed and viewing the pre-posting run report.

Hold, Unhold and Undo Claims – How to hold a transaction, unhold or undo a transaction which has a status of ready to send to finance.

Leavers – How to add MA leaving details for completers and early leavers explains the redundancy process and covers the importance of these details being updated promptly.

Session 3 - How to update assignment changes

Changes to Participant Details – Covers changes to all participant details with the exception of changes to NI number, date of birth, start date or qualification which is updated using the Change of Circumstances area of FIPS as these changes may impact on funding.

Update Equalities Information – Explains how sensitive equalities information is and how to update this information via the update equalities information area of the assignment.

Change of Circumstances 1 Introduction & NI – How to update a National Insurance number where a temporary number has been used or an error has been made.

Change of Circumstances 2 DOB - How to update a MAs date of birth to correct information held on FIPS after the assignment has been approved.

Change of Circumstances 3 Start Date - How to change a participant’s start date after the assignment has been approved.

Change of Circumstances 4 Qualification – How to make a change to a MAs qualification after the assignment has been approved.

Update Employer Details – How to update employer details and the importance of this information being accurate and up to date at all times.

Updates to Expected End Dates Milestones & Outcomes – How to make changes to expected end dates and expected achievement dates of milestones and outcomes from the MA assignment.  

Session 4 - Adopt an Apprentice, verification process and Electris

Adopt an Apprentice - How to submit an online application for Adopt an Apprentice by creating a new assignment first.

Electris – Automated process to confirm registration of the group award and achievement with SQA and covers how to correct validation errors and resubmit via Electris.

New Validation Process SMS Email – Explains the new validation process which automatically sends a SMS text or email to MAs prompting them to confirm they have started training or have made progress.  Details when an employer might be emailed asking them to verify where no response has been received from the MA.