£97m bill for flawed learning scheme

A
new report into the Individual Learning Accounts (ILA) scandal has concluded
the scheme was open to fraud and has cost the tax payer as much as £97m.

The
House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) claims that officials in
charge of the scheme ignored warnings that the ILA system was open to abuse.

The
Government’s flagship training initiative was wound up by the then Education
and Skills Secretary, Estelle Morris, on 7 December 2001, amid concerns that
some learning providers were abusing the system.

MPs
on the PAC said officials administering the ILA system were blinded to the
fraud by their desire to cut bureaucracy and attract new training providers.

The
report goes on to suggest ILA officials were driven by their enthusiasm to
increase the number of people training, but criticises the risk assessment and
management procedures.

By Ross Wigham

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