Politics: Training fraud cost taxpayer pounds 5m

Minister will today carpet employers leaders for presiding over one of the biggest alleged frauds involving taxpayers' money to surface since Labour came to power.

Representatives from 28 employer-led Training and Enterprise Councils will be held to account for allowing pounds 5m to be paid for allegedly bogus qualifications.

Today's meeting in Whitehall comes at a time of mounting government disquiet over the seeming inability of TECs to exercise sufficient control over the pounds 1.25bn of state funds they disperse. TECs were created by the last government and charged with responsibility for providing training for the unemployed and developing local economies.

The TEC leaders have been called in today by Dr Kim Howells, minister of education and employment, after the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority decided to withdraw 1,600 National Vocational Qualifications. The certificates were awarded by the Road Transport Industry Training Board, formerly state- controlled, but now a private company. Some of the A-level equivalent certificates for vehicle maintenance were awarded to people who apparently do not exist. Others were issued with the qualification without the requisite level of achievement. Dr Howells will order the TECs to pay the pounds 5m back to the Exchequer.

The award of the certificates is being investigated by police and follows another investigation into Employment Link, a training agency which performed pounds 1m worth of work for the Central Training and Enterprise Council in the Midlands. Dr Howells has threatened to wind up the organisation and merge it with neighbouring TECs.

The government is known to be investigating other cases of alleged fraud by companies contracted to TECs in England, Wales and Scotland.

Last month Michael Bichard, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education and Employment, told TEC chairman of his "deep concern about errors and irregular payments". He said: "I wish to do everything possible to reverse what appears to be a fall in standards of financial control."

Chris Humphries, chief executive of the TEC National Council, is anxious to dismiss any suggestion of fraud on the part of TEC directors or officers directly employed by them. Mr Humphries is expected to attend today's meeting and will point out that cases under investigation involve less than half a per cent of the 500,000 trainerss that TECs work with each year.

Mr Humphries will argue that most of the fraud allegations that involve cases which are more than three years old and have come to light as a result of more stringent financial controls imposed by the TECs themselves.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor