What is the Discretionary Learner Support Fund (dLSF)

The aim Learner Support Fund (dLSF) is to lower barriers that could prevent you from accessing Coventry Adult Education Service (CAES) courses. The fund can provide financial help if you meet certain eligibility criteria.

The fund is drawn from the Adult Education Budget in line with CAES’s contracts with its funders (ESFA (Education and Skills Funding Agency) and WMCA (West Midlands Combined Authority)). Residents who are not eligible for funding from the Adult Education Budget are not eligible for support from the fund. Key principles of the fund include:  

  • Prioritising limited funds for those in greatest need  
  • Clear processes for administering any funds designated for learner support  
  • Clear appeals procedure for use where funding has been refused  
  • Referral to alternative sources of support, either within the Council or externally where this would result in a better end result for the learner  

Who is eligible for dLSF Support? 

You can apply to the fund if you are enrolled, or are in the process of enrolling, on CAES course(s) and meet any of the following eligibility criteria:  

  • You have household income is less than £25,000 per annum
  • You have a valid GoCV Plus Card 
  • (For travel claims only) you are in receipt of disability-related benefit or in receipt of an Aspen Card 

What support is available and how do I apply?

Can I get help with tuition and exam fees?

If you would normally be required to pay a fee for your course and/or exam and you are eligible for support through the dLSF, your fees will be paid from the dLSF so long as the fund is not exhausted.  

You will be assessed for eligibility for dLSF during enrolment.

If you pay a course or exam fee and it is later discovered that you were eligible for dLSF when you enrolled, you can be reimbursed and the fee claimed from the dLSF.

If you were not eligible for dLSF at the start of your course, but a change in circumstances means you can no longer meet ongoing fee or exam costs and will have to withdraw from the course, an application can be made to the fund via the exceptional circumstances process.

Can I get help with travel costs?

You can claim the cost of a taxi to and from your course if you are a Coventry resident and disabled or in receipt of a disability benefit. You will need to show proof of this, such as Registration number or a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions confirming benefits and complete a dLSF Application Form. 

Taxi journeys must be within the boundary of the city.  In exceptional circumstances, the fund may pay taxi fares from the city boundary or the train station where you are travelling into the city for a course.

You must arrange and pay for the taxi yourself. Once your application for dLSF has been approved you (or your carer) should submit receipts regularly. Once receipts are received a payment will be made to the nominated account.

Asylum Seekers in receipt of an Aspen Card and who are eligible for Adult Education Budget funding are eligible to claim bus fare for their trip to and from their course. A dLSF Travel Claim form must be completed to make such a claim. 

In exceptional circumstances you may be eligible for travel support if you cannot access learning without it. These cases will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Can I get help with textbooks and other equipment?

You can apply to the fund if you cannot afford equipment required for their course (e.g. textbooks) and meet the eligibility criteria.  A dLSF Application Form should be submitted and a member of staff must see proof of eligibility for the fund. Where these conditions are met, the necessary equipment will be purchased by the dLSF fund and provided to you. The fund will not provide funds for you to buy your own equipment. 

Can I get help with childcare?

You can apply for the cost of childcare places at professional, OFSTED registered crèche facilities where they are available at or near learning centres if you meet eligibility criteria. 

Given the limited availability of such places, we are not able to guarantee that a place will be available. Creche places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis.  

The fund does not offer support to individual learners with private childcare costs. 

Can I get help with other circumstances? 

If you have financial barriers to attendance that are not met by this policy, you may submit an exceptional circumstances claim.  Examples might include: 

  • You no longer have an income due to benefits being withdrawn 
  • Marriage breakdown and domestic violence mean you need additional help or support 
  • The wellbeing of children could be impacted if you are not given support to allow attendance. 

The details of the claim will be considered by the CAES Senior Leadership Team. A decision will be made within two weeks of receiving the application. 

Do I need a bank account?  

You will need to have a bank account that accepts electronic payments. If you have a Learning Difficulty and/or Disability and do not have an account, the account of a parent or other family member can be used. 

It is not possible for the City Council to make payments into a Post Office Card account as these are solely created to receive benefit payments. 

Most banks provide a 'basic bank account', which is a simple account that does not have a chequebook or an overdraft facility. Please see the Money Advice Service for more information. 

How can I complain? 

Complaints will be handled in accordance with the CAES Complaints Policy

If complaints are not resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant, they should be escalated to Coventry City Council’s complaints department.