Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) Audits

Providing Assurance on Sub-contracting for the Education and Skills Funding Agency

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (“ESFA”) requires apprenticeship providers who sub-contract £100,000 or more of their provision to obtain an annual report from an external auditor providing assurance on sub-contracting arrangements.

Skills Funding Agency Audits

Sub-contracting arrangements have been under scrutiny by the ESFA for some time and the assurance requirements are a direct response to concerns raised by them. By looking for assurance over sub-contracting, the ESFA is able to identify providers who are falling short of the expected level of oversight and control over sub-contracting.

It is vital that all lead providers who sub-contract at least £100,000 per annum review the requirements and ensure their organisation has systems and controls in place to meet those requirements.

The external auditor is required to provide an annual assurance report on the organisation’s end-to-end subcontracting processes in place to meet the requirements of the funding agreements and the associated funding rules for the respective year.

Where a provider falls short, the auditor has to report those shortcomings. This could lead to the ESFA withholding or withdrawing funding and cancelling funding contracts

The ESFA does not prescribe the process that the auditor must follow and it is up to the auditor to use their expertise, experience, and judgement to determine the scope of work.

How Can We Help? 

HURST, as a firm of registered auditors working with numerous learning providers, is well-placed to deliver your annual assurance report. We are familiar with the contractual and funding requirements and have completed many ESFA subcontractor assurance reviews.

We have developed a programme of work and template report to enable us to deliver the report in a timely and cost-efficient way for providers.

We would be delighted to meet with you at no cost and with no obligation to discuss the requirements. We are also able to provide you with further guidance and a suggested methodology for how you can fulfil the requirements.

If you'd like to discuss your annual assurance report, contact HURST Partner, Helen Besant-Roberts on 0161 477 2474 or email us at