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17 April 2006
This PC is targeted primarily at the six regions in England who are preparing EXPIRY DATE:
for the implementation of the new Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service July 2011
(OLASS) on 31July 2006: the East and West Midlands, the East of England,
Yorkshire & Humberside, the South East and London. It provides guidance TO:
as to how the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) will commission future Chairs of Probation Boards
Learning and Skills provision for offenders in the community under OLASS. Chief Officers of Probation
This PC also has implications for the North East, North West and the South
Secretaries of Probation Boards
West regarding the application of ESF funding to enhance the vocational
offer in the three development regions
Board Treasurers
Chairs and Chiefs of Probation Boards are asked to note the contents of the Regional Managers
PC and to disseminate it to appropriate staff within their areas. Regional Offender Managers
National Learning and Skills
The Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) is currently being Social Inclusion and Offenders
introduced in England. The service will integrate learning and skills provision Unit, DfES
for offenders in custody and the community with all offender learning and
skills provision planned and funded by the LSC. Three development regions AUTHORISED BY:
(North East, North West and South West) went live with the new service on 1 Sarah Mann
August 2005. The six remaining regions in England are currently preparing Head of Interventions Unit
for the new service that is scheduled to go live on 31 July 2006. Different
arrangements are being put in place for Welsh areas as neither the remit of ATTACHED:
the LSC nor the DfES extends to Wales. Welsh regions are adopting a Annex A – LSC paper providing a
separate strategy in partnership with the Welsh Assembly Government and broad overview of the
the Director of Offender Management Services – Wales commissioning strategy.
Annex B – The LSC
PC58/2005 – Preparing for the Introduction of OLASS.
PC06/2006 – Business Planning 2006-07.

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES or 020 7217 8283

National Probation Directorate

Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW
1. Introduction

The procurement process under OLASS Phase 1 in 2005/06 for the three development regions (NE, NW & SW) followed
an LSC led open and competitive tendering process (OCT). The provision tendered for combined the budgets for prison
education and those currently used for the delivery of Skills for Life to offenders in the community, in order for lead
providers to deliver across both settings. The Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service requires all offenders to be given
appropriate access to the broad range of learning opportunities i.e. provision that is broader than purely Skills for Life.

In order to secure a broader learning and skills offer for offenders in the community, the LSC has adopted a different
approach for OLASS Phase 2. This has been approved by the OLASS Project Board for the remaining six regions in
England but elements from phase 2 will also apply to the three Development Regions. The approach adopted for phase 2
retains an open and competitive process for offenders in custody but the LSC will commission provision for offenders in
the community.

This commissioning approach for community provision will enable the LSC to engage with a stronger, more diverse range
of providers as well as levering in additional funding from other sources such as the European Social Fund (ESF). The
National LSC have now secured substantial ESF funding (£30m until December 2008) and have provided details as to
how provision for the community is to be commissioned in the two papers attached at Annex A and B of this PC. These
papers provide the LSC strategy to be adopted in commissioning services for the community as well as providing an
indication as to the timescales involved.

2. The development regions (NE, NW & SW)

The three development regions (NE, NW & SW) have basic skills provision embedded within the OLASS structure for
offenders in the community within the tendered element of the £9.4million. In order to enhance the vocational offer in the
three development regions it will be necessary for those regions to follow the route of securing additional provision
through ESF and use of mainstream LSC funded provision. The three development regions will therefore be looking to
secure funding from streams 1 and 4 (below) in addition to their current arrangements.

3. Funding

Funding under OLASS to support offenders in the community for phase 2 will therefore be different from phase 1 and will
now fall within the following four funding streams.

Stream 1 – Offenders in the community are eligible to access learning supported by LSC mainstream funding. Where
offenders (who are recognised as a priority group by the LSC and its providers) engage with mainstream provision they
(the providers) will be expected to utilise their mainstream allocations (e.g. FE) funding in order to deliver to offenders in
the community. Such funding will however be supplemented by ESF funding if ESF funding has been successfully
tendered for.

Stream 2 –NPS areas in England and Wales receive £7.9m in their baseline budgets which is ring fenced for basic skills.
These funds are allocated for the screening, referral to LSC provision, case management, motivation of offenders and for
maintaining the infrastructure. This funding stream should not be used to purchase direct provision for offenders in the

Stream 3 – This stream, administered via the LSC, consists of £10million which was made available in England and
Wales from April 2004 to support the transition to the LSC of learning and skills for offenders in the community and to
enhance capacity. This funding has rolled forward and now forms a permanent addition to the DfES baseline budget.
Under OLASS this funding can only be used for activities related to Skills for Life for Offenders in the Community and will
essentially fund:

- Direct delivery of Skills for Life provision to offenders in the community, and

PC12/2006 – Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) – Offenders in the Community Commissioning Strategy
2006/07 2
- Linkages between custodial and community provision.

Please note that all providers commissioned by the LSC to deliver services in the community must have achieved LSC
approved provider status by the end of July 2006. Any NPS area which is considering becoming a commissioned provider
is advised to seek advice from its lead/local LSC about how to acquire LSC approved provider status. Paragraph 4 below
also gives further information on the restricted tendering process.

Stream 4 ESF funding (£30m up to December 2008) – This funding, administered by the LSC, will allow the regional
priorities, as agreed by Regional Partnership Boards to provide added value to current Skills for Life and a wider
vocational offer through mainstream provision directed towards offenders. Local priorities will be determined by the Local
Strategic Partnerships who will select providers through an ESF restricted tendering process.

If your area is also one that will benefit from PS Plus 3 funding then areas are encouraged to ensure that any OLASS and
PS Plus 3 arrangements complement each other. Areas will also need to liaise closely with their regional LSC to avoid the
possibility of double funding.

4. Commissioning the new providers via Restricted Tender

The LSC will commission provision for offenders in the community via an ESF restricted tender. Under the Restricted
Tender Procedure all interested suppliers are invited to submit an Expression of Interest. Every supplier who responds to
that advertisement must be given the opportunity to complete a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire (PQQ). The
advertisement will include a statement that all PQQs will be assessed, and that a stated range of suppliers – not fewer
than 5 and not more than 20 – will then be invited to submit formal tenders. Those who tender, and are successful, are,
by going through the process, demonstrating their intention to work with offenders (and are thus the commissioned
providers) and will receive (if they do not have it already) LSC approved provider status.

5. Targets

PC06/2006– Business Planning 2006-07 notified areas that basic skills targets for 2006-07 had been set at 48,000
referrals. All NPS areas should continue to submit the current monthly and quarterly basic skills monitoring returns to the
Regions and Performance Unit at NPD as the data received will continue to be monitored centrally.


Areas should be aware that the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulation 1981 (TUPE) is likely to
apply to any transfer of service (an “undertaking”) from an existing provider (NPS areas included) to a new provider.
Should areas be considering becoming a commissioned provider under OLASS they are strongly advised to take their
own independent legal advice at an early stage regarding the application of TUPE. Experience from the three
development regions has shown that early engagement (through careful analysis of functions likely to transfer, production
of indicative TUPE lists, notification to staff that their posts may be in scope, consideration of pension issues,
amalgamation of information on terms and conditions etc) will all pay dividends later in dealing with complex TUPE
issues. Areas are also advised to inform their local unions of their intentions at an early stage. The NPD has access to
specialist legal advice from the Government Actuaries Department (GAD) and the Treasury Solicitors (TSoL). The
contacts are given below:

For pension related issues: David Johnston at GAD: e-mail

For TUPE related legal queries only (areas should note that this service is not free and that TSol will charge NPD for its
time): Treasury Solicitors:

All other HR related queries should be referred either to Iain McIntosh at the Directorate or taken up with the DfES or
LSC as appropriate.

PC12/2006 – Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) – Offenders in the Community Commissioning Strategy
2006/07 3
The NPD will also be writing to areas shortly as a first step in identifying indicative numbers of staff that may fall within
scope for transfer under TUPE.

PC12/2006 – Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) – Offenders in the Community Commissioning Strategy
2006/07 4
Annex A

Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS)

Offenders in the Community Commissioning Strategy 2006/07
LSC office National Office


The National OLASS project board and the LSC OLASS Management Board have agreed a
strategy for the commissioning of the Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service for offenders in
the community.

The strategy will enable the LSC to engage a strong and refreshed set of providers to deliver
the service. It will also enable the LSC to maximise its ability to lever in resources both from
its own mainstream funds and other funding sources, e.g. co financed ESF

This paper summarises the key points in the original Project Board paper in September and
provides operational detail of the commissioning process at Annex B.


The procurement process for OLASS 2005/06 followed an open and competitive tendering
process. This approach was adopted due to significant timescale pressures exerted by
ministerial timetables.

The LSC has received indicative maximum budgets for OLASS 2006/07 and it is clear that the
budgets to transfer will not, in isolation, secure the full benefits which we seek from the new,
integrated OLASS.

In order to enable the LSC to strengthen the case for levering in mainstream funding to
increase the reach of offender learning it was important to have offenders officially recognised
as a priority group. This has been achieved through the publication of:

• ‘Priorities of Success’, the LSC’s Funding Priorities for 2006/07.

• The 2006/07 Grant letter from the secretary of state to the LSC
• The LSC Annual Statement of Priorities for 06/07

This issue is particularly pertinent for that part of the budget designated for use with offenders
in the community where the indicative amount included in the transferred budget is just
£9.4million (in England). New sentencing arrangements are likely to mean that more
offenders will serve all or part of their sentence in the community and a ‘stand still’ budget
does not take this into account.

Consequently the LSC has sought the optimum solution to enable it to supplement the
OLASS budget through accessing both its mainstream and other available budgets, e.g. co-
financed ESF for work with offenders in the community. That approach, including operational
details regarding the commissioning process, are set out below.


The following principles will be adhered to in the future arrangements and will:
• Build on local partnerships between Probation areas, local LSC and Jobcentre Plus.
• Support better progression/ integration between different offender settings.
• Integrate work with young offenders through the full engagement of Youth Offending
Teams and the emerging Children’s Trusts.
• Develop integrated strategies for employment and skills, including employer
• Supplement ring-fenced OLASS budgets through leverage of other external funds
(e.g. ESF, NRF).
• Build offender needs into the LSC mainstream planning and funding role, especially
further education.
• Work with Probation Areas as strategic partners in development and implementation.

Regional Planning Framework

Planning for the new service will be overseen by the Regional OLASS partnership boards in
each of the 9 English regions. These boards, chaired by the LSC, have been convened to
include all key stakeholders in the service for the region and are well placed to ensure that an
effective service is in place.

The Boards will need to prepare a regional statement of offender priorities which is aligned
with the LSC’s broader Statement of Priorities and with the Regional Reducing Re-Offending
Action Plan. The priorities will need to be based upon a robust profile of offenders in the
region and a review of current provision and outcomes. This work will enable regional
partnership boards to set the baseline for planning purposes.

The Regional OLASS Boards will oversee the allocation of budgets to local area partnerships
and approve annual commissioning plans for their respective areas ensuring full alignment
with the commissioning of wider offender management services.

Local Strategic Partnerships

In order to enable the LSC to plan effectively at a local level, arrangements which are put into
place need to be fit for purpose. Local strategic partnerships (building on existing partnership
plan arrangements between local LSC’s and NPS areas) will be put into place.

The local partnership will be co-terminus with NPS areas wherever possible. The local
partnerships will need to prepare a set of local priorities within the broader framework the
regionally agreed priorities. These priorities will take account of the offender profile and
current provision in the local area. Local strategic partnerships will need to produce an annual
delivery plan, linked to commissioning plans which details plans for:

• Provision
• Co-ordination and referral
• Support services for offenders

Local Delivery Partnerships

Local delivery partnerships formed by a network/consortium of providers will be established.

Local provider arrangements will be put in place to be responsible for the:

• Effective referral/transfer of all in-coming offenders.

• Maintenance of effective tracking systems.
• Co-ordination of provision across the local area.

The partnership will be managed by a joint management group led by the LSC.

The Commissioning Process

In order to ensure that funds to support work with offenders in the community are maximised
the LSC has secured additional funding to supplement the £9.4million in England.

The commissioning process will enable the LSC to link OLASS work to its co-financed ESF
activity in the regions.

As a major co-financing organisation the LSC is able to carry out a restricted tendering
exercise in relation to its work with offenders. Co-financed ESF offers the following benefits:

• it is based on contracted not actual costs with simplified, less cumbersome


• it allows targeting of specialist providers with capacity and proven track records,

• it provides flexibility of provision to suit the needs of this group of learners both in
terms of scheduling and client group/spatial targeting,

• opportunities to build in partnership/consortium arrangements,

• linkage to core FE planning and funding.

The commissioning process is set out in Annexe B

Annex B

Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS)

Offenders in the Community Commissioning Strategy


1. OLASS offenders in the community budgets confirmed £9.4million nationally for Skills for Life
activity only.

2. LSC outline specification for ESF expenditure submitted to ESFD.

ESF funding will be targeted to support offenders in the community who are furthest from being
able to succeed in education, training or employment. The ESF funding will enable the provision to
fully meet the additional needs of this target group, which otherwise would be unable to be
supported with the existing budget for Community activity.

The ESF funding will enhance services offered to offenders in the community to ensure integration
of the offenders’ learning journey, leading to increased employability for a group that has a variety
of barriers to accessing employment, education or training.

3. Partnership Plans agreed between local LSCs and Probation Areas in respect of Skills for Life
provision for Offenders in the Community are due to expire at the end of March 2006. An amount of
funding is made available from LSC National Office to local LSCs for this provision. These funds
are also due to finish at the end of March 2006.

New arrangements for the Offenders’ Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) will commence in
developing regions from 31 July 2006.

To ensure the continuity of current arrangements leading up to the commencement of OLASS, the
LSC National Office will make four months funding of current allocation levels available to each
local LSC to extend their Partnership Plan with the Probation Service up to 30 July 2006.

With regard to arrangements for Offenders in the Community provisions from 31st July 2006, the
same levels of funding for the eight month period between 31st July 2006 and end of March 2007
will still be available, and will be combined with LSC commissioned mainstream and ESF-funded

The present and future arrangements for those funds are set out below.
OLASS: The elements of provision for Offenders in the Community
Provision Current arrangements (to
Element Future purpose (Aug 06 onwards) Secured via
(value) end July 06)
1 Skills for Life Variable; but including: This funding can only be used for activities related to Contract Management process –
for Offenders in - direct delivery, Skills for Life for Offenders in the Community, contracts with good quality and
the Community - funding specific posts, achieving providers to continue, others
(£9.4m) - ‘topping up’ and Overall regional priorities, agreed by Regional to cease as of 30 July 2006.
complimenting FE provision Partnership Boards should predominantly include:
and funding rates, Those providers with whom we wish to
- passing funding directly to - direct delivery of Skills for Life provision to offenders continue must have achieved approved
Probation Area etc. in the community, provider status by end July 2006.
- linkage between custodial and community provision
- precise usage to be determined through aggregated Proposal to enter into three year
local assessment of priorities. contracts with these organisations, in
line with custodial contracts.
2 ESF (c£39m up N/A The regional priorities, will be agreed by Regional Restricted tendering process – those
to Dec 2008) Partnership Boards but should predominantly include: who tender, and are successful, are, by
going through the process,
Complementing and adding value to current Skills for demonstrating their intention to work
Life and mainstream provision directed towards with offenders (and are thus the
offenders. commissioned providers), and, if not
already, will receive LSC approved
Local priorities to be determined by Local Strategic provider status.
Partnerships. These partnerships will select providers
through a restricted tendering process.
3 Mainstream Variable – some Providers successful in tendering for ESF for Those providers that are successful in
LSC provision mainstream providers do Offenders in the Community will, by default, become securing ESF funding will be determined
(£undefinable) deliver to offenders, but the initial cohort of commissioned provider. By this, we as ‘commissioned’ providers – they will
many refuse to deal with shall require these mainstream LSC providers to use then use ESF funding to provide
this group. mainstream (e.g. FE) funding to deliver to offenders in provision to offenders in the community
the community supplemented by ESF. in addition to their mainstream LSC
In addition, those organisations delivering Skills for
Life to Offenders in the Community (out of the £9.4m)
should also be able to access ESF.
4. NPD/LSC/ESFD meeting to confirm ESF allocation figure.

5. ESF budgets confirmed to LSC National Office

6. Regional OLASS Boards to agree and issue their statements of Regional Priorities for offender learning.

7. Regional ESF allocations confirmed.

8. Local strategic partnerships to agree and issue their statements of local priorities and delivery plans for offender learning.

9. Regional ESF specification produced (aggregates local delivery plans).

10. Local ESF specifications produced by local strategic partnerships.

11. Restricted Tender Process for ESF funding (run by LSC) commenced mid March 2006.

12. Assessment of tenders by local strategic partnerships and award of contracts made.

13. Consultation (90 days) period starts for staff in scope for TUPE 1st May 2006.
January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006

I January 06

2. ESF Outline 4. NPD/LSC

Specification ESFD
submitted to Meeting 23
ESFD by LSC February
20 January

12. Assessment
and Award
confirmed 13. Consultation period starts for staff in scope for
7. Regional 11. Restricted tendering process TUPE 1 May 06 to 31 July 06

6. Regional ESF
ll ti 10. Local ESF
8. Local Specifications
priority d d
statements 9. Regional
3. Extend existing produced ESF
LSC/NPD Plans to Specifications
30/7/06 and delivery

Related Interests