Employability Fund Training Providers can view COVID-19 interim measures below, offering advice, support and relevant contact information.

COVID Interim Measures are short term measures to support Providers to continue delivering their services. Interim Measures are not included in the EF Rules 2020-21 (as extended to 31 March 2022).  All COVID measures are published on this page.

Where Providers can still meet their obligations as detailed in the EF Rules 2020-21 (as extended to 31 March 2022), they should continue to do this. COVID Interim Measures should only be used as a last resort for Providers who are unable to meet the published EF Rules due to COVID.

The COVID Interim Measures are in place from 1st April 2021 until 31st March 2022. You can find the EF Rules 2020-21 (as extended to 31 March 2022) here. Please ensure you review this document and associated Appendices.

Providers must continue to input all information to FIPS timeously, keep all documentation required, and ensure these are available to upload to FIPS on request. 

CIAG Referrals 

The Employability Fund Provider should expect an encrypted and password protected copy of the EFEC to be sent by email by SDS CIAG with the following statement:  

“I hereby confirm that *insert individual’s name* has given consent for SDS to transfer personal data to *insert organisation referred to*. This permission will be held electronically in SDS’s client management system.” 

DWP Referrals 

As from Thursday 1 April 2021 the following process has been agreed with DWP:

  • Provider identifies a DWP customer who is a suitable EF referral
  • Provider sends e-mail to the individual requesting positive confirmation that individual is interested in EF and that individual gives consent for Provider to share Name and National Insurance number data with DWP to confirm eligibility.
  • Provider contacts their DWP district contact by email, attaching participant consent email, and requests confirmation of individual EF eligibility
  • DWP district contact confirms eligibility by e-mail to the Provider within 2 working days
  • Please note full eligibility criteria applies
  • Provider completes Appendix 2 – EF Eligibility Confirmation document based on receipt of e-mail from DWP district contact and conversation held with the individual.  The Provider fulfils the role of the EF Referring Organisation in place of DWP.  The signatures of the EF Referring organisation and the Participant are required for which interim measures have been introduced as detailed on the Meetings & Signatures and E-mail confirmation sections.
  • If the EF Provider is completing the EFEC on behalf of DWP then they must select DWP as the Referring Organisation in Section 1 and they must complete Section 7 using their own details but ensure that it is noted they are signing on behalf of DWP e.g. Name of Referring Organisation: ABC Training (on behalf of DWP). When completing the TA and registering on FIPS, in the Training Details section, the EF Provider must ensure that the “Referred by” organisation selected is DWP.
  • Provider does not  arrange Pre - Entry interview with DWP
  • Provider completes Appendix 5 - Start/Leaver Notification (SLN) by e-mail and sends to local Jobcentre
  • Provider retains hard copy of email and SLN on file

An individual who was shielding and now wishes to re-enter EF does not have to satisfy the 13 week unemployed eligibility criteria to re-enter EF. EF Providers should follow the DWP interim referral process above to request confirmation of individual EF eligibility and highlight in the email that this request requires “COVID 19 Eligibility relaxation”.

 

EF Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4 and NTTF – delivery

With effect from 5 January 2021: If an EF/NTTF Participant is facing extended delays to completion of their ITP due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, their end date can be extended beyond the maximum duration of training up to 31st March 2021.  In the case of EF Participants in receipt of YPA, to extend a Participant’s end date on FIPS you are required to have a robust rationale and update their ITP accordingly.  In the case of EF Participants in receipt of benefit, to extend a Participant’s end date on FIPS you must update the ITP to include the robust rationale for the extension and you must send a Change of Circumstance form to the JCP office that made the original referral with the revised expected end date and note indicating  “COVID 19 relaxation applied”.

EF Stage 4 and NTTF – outputs

With effect from 7 December: During the COVID – 19 interim measures period, SDS has agreed to support EF Stage 4 and NTTF providers with a supplementary payment to fund high cost qualifications from the Approved Qualification Listing.  The supplementary payment is available to Providers in advance of the Participant completing the approved qualification.  The process for seeking approval and claiming this supplementary payment is as follows:

  • The qualification is approved, by SDS, and entered on the other qualification list with an approved supplementary payment.
  • SIA will email the Learning Provider and confirm the qualification has been approved and details of the supplementary payment if applicable.
  • Learning Provider collates the supplementary payments to be claimed and enters them on a claim sheet (SDS will supply this).
  • Learning Provider will then create a Bulk Expense Authorisation within FIPS and upload the claim sheet.
  • SDS will check and approve the Bulk Authorisation.
  • Once the Bulk Authorisation is approved the Learning Provider can then create an Expense Claim.
  • Learning Providers should aim to only input one Bulk Expense Authorisation and Expense Claim per week.

Further detailed guidance and a process map and on how to complete this was sent by email to all EF Stage 4 EF Providers from the EF Contracts team on 9 December 2020.  Please contact efcontracts@sds.co.uk if you did not receive this email.

If the Approved Qualification consists of more than one certificated element and the Participant is unable to complete all of the certificated elements, the Provider should update the Participants ITP with the specific details and contact their SIA to discuss.

EF Stage 3 outputs

During the COVID – 19 interim measures period, SDS has expanded the output measure options for Stage 3 to include SCQF credit rated personal development provision of at least 18 SCQF credit points at SCQF Level 4 or above.  This flexibility does not apply to the Group Award where employer opinion is integral to attainment of at least 34 SCQF credit points at SCQF level 4.

Work Experience 

SDS have relaxed the mandatory requirement for work experience at Stage 2 and 3 and are currently reviewing the impact on the delivery of the Certificate of Work Readiness at Stage 3.  

EF Outcome evidence timescales: 

If the Provider is unable to meet the outcome evidence timescales as outlined in the EF Rules 2020-21 (as extended to 31 March 2022) due to COVID -19, the Provider should contact their SIA to discuss.

EF Stage 4 and NTTF travel and accommodation

Due to COVID-19 interim measures will apply to all Stage 4 including NTTF participants and until no later than 31st March 2022 or earlier date confirmed by SDS.

Providers should follow the guidance issued by the Scottish Government . If Participants are travelling outwith their LEP area to complete their ITP, Providers must have explored all alternative delivery options and recorded the rationale for the travel as part of the ITP. A risk assessment must be completed by the Provider to ensure the Participant is aware of the measures they must take to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID 19. This risk assessment must be stored with the ITP and made available to SDS on request.

 

Travel

Participants will be expected to contribute no more than the first £3 per week towards their own travel expenses. Any claims made to SDS must not include the £3 paid by the participant. Claims should only be made where excessive travel is required due to no local provision being available and outwith the current EF rule 7.5.1 - the provider shall pay to each participant, the participant’s reasonable travel costs.

The provider must seek the most cost effective travel and accommodation costs.

Air travel would be by exception and only if no alternative or cheaper option is available.

  • Ferry fares – full cost of ferry fare (Note: island residents are entitled to concessionary rates)
  • Air fares – full cost of air fare (note: air travel only to be used if no alternative option such as ferry travel is available for those travelling from islands to the mainland or island to island)
  • Train fares – full cost of standard train fare
  • Bus fare – full cost of bus fare
  • Taxi – only in exceptional circumstances and which require to be detailed when making claims
  • Car travel - mileage 22p per mile. Note: Where there is no or limited access to public transport or timetabling would require an overnight stay or journey times are reduced; car travel is permitted. If the cost of using public transport for the journey is less than mileage; payment will be restricted to the lesser amount. You must cost these options. If more than one participant is travelling in the car only the car owner is eligible to make a claim.

Those that are eligible from being under threat of redundancy will not attract travel or lodgings support as they are still employed.

Accommodation

Under exceptional circumstances where training cannot be sourced within a daily commute location, lodgings will be supported by SDS.

The contribution towards overnight accommodation will be as follows:

  • SDS contribution will be up to a maximum of £65 per night.
  • If nightly accommodation is secured for less than the minimum rates then the actual cost should be claimed. Example –nightly cost is £30 then £30 only can be claimed.

NOTE: COVID:19 – please be aware of and follow the current UK and Scottish government guidelines issued regarding travel and staying away from home.

Funding and evidence requirements

You will be allocated a sum of funds in addition to existing contracts that allows you to make claims against agreed eligibility as outlined above.

You must retain evidence of costs to be reimbursed – i.e. copy of travel costs (tickets, receipts) along with accommodation costs (hotel, B&B invoices and receipts) clearly showing the date of the journey or accommodation.

You must make claims through FIPS for reimbursement within two financial periods of the actual journey or accommodation being taken.

Claims should be made through the Bulk Expense and Expense Claims area within FIPS and using the Travel & Lodging Claim Form. Further guidance on the process is set out within the Travel & Lodging Claim Form which is available on request from efcontracts@sds.co.uk

Any questions, please contact efcontracts@sds.co.uk in the first instance.

Please read Part 3, paragraph 3.3.7 of the EF Rules 2020-21 (as extended to 31 March 2022) to see what we accept for signatures.

If Providers are unable to gain signatures in the ways listed in the EF Rules, then as a last resort, they should follow the guidance below:  

The Provider must send an email to the Participant with the relevant E-Mail Confirmation Statement (found below) and the relevant document attached or inserted to the email.

The provider can send all relevant documents and email confirmations statements within the one email.

There must be prior contact with both parties to collect the information to enable the documentation to be fully completed.

This sent email acts as the Providers signature for the named document(s).

The Participant must then positively respond to the email to confirm they have read, understood and contributed as appropriate to each named document. This email acts as the Participants signature and must be retained with the named document as evidence.

The named document is not compliant unless accompanied with the relevant e-mail confirmation statement

Providers are required to use the following statements for each document:    

EF Eligibility Confirmation 21/22 (Appendix 2) where the EF Provider is the EF referring organisation and the Participant is not in receipt of DWP benefits 
Required signatures: Participant and EF Referring Organisation signature   

Description: This email contains the EF Eligibility Confirmation for the Employability Fund. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you have been referred to the Employability Fund with the support of your referring organisation and that you have read and understood the eligibility confirmation form.  

EF Training Agreement 21/22    
Required signatures: Participant and EF Provider signature    

Description: This email contains the Training Agreement for the Employability Fund. If you respond positively to this email, you confirm that you will undertake the Employability Fund with the support of your Provider and that you have read and understood the agreement.     

Equalities Monitoring Form 21/22 (Appendix 7)  
Required signatures: Participant signature   

Description: This email contains the Equalities Monitoring Form. If you respond positively to this email you confirm that you have read and completed this and understand that for equality monitoring purposes, the Provider will input the information to an SDS system and then destroy the hard copy of the form.    Your data will be held securely and confidentially, and will only be used for reporting purposes, further information can be found in the SDS Privacy Notice.

Individual Training Plan (ITP) 21/22 (Appendix 3)  
Required signatures: Participant and EF Provider signature    

Description: This email contains an ITP for the Employability Fund. If you respond positively to this email, you confirm that you have agreed the content (either at the start of training, review or completion of training) of the ITP with the support of your Provider and that you have read and understood the ITP.   

Start/Leaver Notification and Change of Circumstance Form 21/22  (Appendix 5 and 6)  
Required signatures: Participant and EF Provider signature    

These documents are specifically designed to update the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).  The Start/Leaver notification and Change of Circumstance forms must be completed as outlined in the EF Rules 2020-21(as extended to 31 March 2022), emailed to the local Jobcentre and copied to the DWP District Contact.  

Progression from EF to MA 21/22 (Appendix 10)   
Required signatures: Participant MA Provider Signature and EF Provider signature    

Description: This email contains the Progression from EF to MA declaration form for the Employability Fund. If you respond positively to this email, you confirm that you have progressed to a MA and that you have read and agree with the Progression from EF to MA declaration form.   

Progression from EF to a Job or Self-employment 21/22 (Appendix 11)   
Required signatures: Participant, Employer and EF Provider signature    

Description: This email contains the Progression from EF to a job or self-employment declaration form for the Employability Fund. If you respond positively to this email, you confirm that you have progressed to a job or self-employment and that you have read and agree with the Progression from EF to job or self-employment declaration form.   

Progression from EF to a Sustained Job or Self-employment 21/22 (Appendix 12)   
Required signatures: Participant, Employer and EF Provider signature    

Description: This email contains the Progression from EF to a sustained job or self-employment declaration form for the Employability Fund. If you respond positively to this email, you confirm that you have progressed to a sustained job or self-employment and that you have read and agree with the Progression from EF to a sustained job or self-employment declaration form.

Next Steps   

If you have any questions or issues not addressed by the guidance above, please contact your SIA in the first instance.    

We continue to liaise with the Scottish Training Federation and the Scottish Government on measures to support contract holders through this uncertain period. 

We urge you to follow the Scottish Government’s latest information and advice on Coronavirus at gov.scot/coronavirus. Public health advice can be found at: Coronavirus (COVID-19) on NHS Inform.