PAC urged to investigate ILA scheme

PAC urged to investigate ILA scheme

The Conservative Party is urging the Public Accounts Committee to investigate reports of fraud which lead the government to suspend its Individual Learning Accounts scheme.

Shadow education and skills secretary Damian Green has sent a formal request to PAC chairman Edward Leigh ‘to investigate the government’s conduct and look into the amount of money that was lost’.

Green claimed the government failed to act promptly in dealing with the reports of fraud, was complacent over the problems with ILAs and was then ‘panicked into a hasty suspension of the scheme that has created anger’.

He pressed a motion in the House of Commons deploring the government’s conduct in first ignoring the evidence of fraud and then stopping ILAs without notice.

But education secretary Estelle Morris successfully pressed an amendment recognising ‘the success of ILAs, while understanding the necessary public interest case for suspending them’.

The Conservatives protested the suspension would force the closure of many legitimate training providers and accused Morris of claiming the suspension was due to the scheme’s success

In one letter Morris said the rapid growth of the scheme had exceeded all expectations, ‘causing us to think again about how to target public funds in this area’.

In response, the Tories said that early reports spoke of cowboy operators cashing in on lax supervision.

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