What happens if my organisation gets a bad ESFA audit result?
The ESFA holds a lot of clout in the apprenticeship sector – if you deliver apprenticeships, you care what they think. Receiving a bad audit result either during a full assurance review or a desktop review will really impact your organisation.
The problem is, not all providers that are non-compliant are ‘bad providers’ trying to forgo the rules. There are loads of business factors that could affect compliance – like data management or tracking systems. But unfortunately, the ESFA isn’t known for being lenient. If your organisation is found to be non-compliant, it could seriously impact your organisation.
How would a bad audit result impact my organisation?
A bad audit result could seriously affect your reputation and reduce demand for your services. If you go to procurement, employers will be able to see your audit result, which could make them disengage with your organisation.
Reduced revenue and profitability
Reduced demand could impact your revenue and cashflow. If you need to update processes, resubmit data or repopulate evidence packs, this could seriously impact the profitability of your delivery too.
Recovery of funds
The ESFA can recover funds you’ve already claimed for delivery, which could lead to serious financial issues or even bankruptcy for your organisation. The most common reason the ESFA recovers funds is to counteract overclaimed apprenticeship funding. To make sure you avoid having funds recovered, you need to record evidence of every apprentice’s prior learning, negotiate a price with the employer and reduce your funding claim accordingly – remembering to record the agreed price on the ILR.
How can my organisation mitigate these risks?
The only way to avoid a bad audit result is to stay compliant across the board. If the ESFA finds a non-compliance issue in their sample, they may complete a 100% audit across your entire student population. If they find the same error across your learner sample, they can even extrapolate the findings across your entire learner cohort and claim back funding for all your students.
This may sound scary, but there are many things you can do to make sure you stay compliant. Using an apprenticeship software, like OneFile, will help you maintain quality throughout the apprenticeship journey. You can record actual off-the-job hours, evidence learner engagement and manage data effectively.
Of course, human error can't always be avoided, but using an apprenticeship software, electronic ILR and initial assessment system will help you minimise irregularities and reduce non-compliance risk across your organisation.
To help you stay compliant and avoid potential red flags at audit, we’ve created a list of the most common errors providers make that result in 100% auditing.
This article includes research and opinion sourced by OneFile at the time of publication. Things may have changed since then,
so this research is to be used at the reader's discretion. OneFile is not liable for any action taken based on this research.