Governemnt attacked for learning scheme fiasco

An independent report has slammed the Government for its handling of the
Individual Learning Accounts, which folded in November last year.

The scheme, which entitled people to grants of up to £200 towards
educational courses, was closed after it was revealed that some registered
training providers had been taking money while providing sub-standard courses.

MP Edward Leigh, who led the National Audit Office report into the failure
of the personal development initiative, said the Department for Education and
Skills cut corners because it attempted to implement the scheme too quickly.

"There was no proper financial planning or business model and security
arrangements were risible," he said

Leigh accused the department of failing to establish a proper risk-sharing
relationship with Capita, its private sector partner in the scheme.

He added: "The department seems not to have kept its eye on the scheme
as demand for courses increased sharply, accompanied by a rising tide of

The NAO report also criticises the DFES decision not to apply quality
assurance to courses, relying rather on market forces to weed out poor
educational providers.

"The unskilled and unqualified workers whom the department most wanted
to attract into the ILA scheme were surely those most in need of assurance that
the courses they were taking were worthwhile and not run by the
unprincipled," he said.

By Ben Willmott

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