Learning cash suspended as abuse revealed

The Government is to suspend its Individual Learning Account programme after
evidence that the scheme has been abused by some training providers.

The initiative, which entitles people to grants of up to £200 towards
educational courses, is to be put on hold following allegations that some
registered training providers have been taking the money while providing
sub-standard courses.

Education and Skills Secretary Estelle Morris said the scheme was being
suspended from 7 December as a result of concerns over the exploitation of the
scheme, which are being investigated by the National Crime Squad.

She said, "There is growing evidence that some companies are abusing
the scheme by offering low value, poor quality learning.

"We are keen that this does not undermine what has been a successful
programme, and so are acting quickly to protect the interests of individual
learners. We have, therefore, decided to prevent any further take-up of ILAs.

Existing account holders will continue to be supported provided courses are
booked with the ILA centre by 7 December.

Liz Smith, head of learning services for the TUC, said, "It is
important to be clear that this does not mean a reduced commitment by
government to lifelong learning, and the TUC and union views will be important
in shaping better ways of ensuring effective delivery in the future.

"In the meantime, we will be discussing the implications for unions that
are using ILAs with the Department for Education and Skills as a key part of
their workplace learning activities and will assist in making any necessary
adjustments to programmes and targets."

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