'Fraud in training' inquiry

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A FULL investigation is to be held into claims of fraud among companies which are paid by the Government to train young people, writes Chris Blackhurst.

The National Audit Office, the public spending watchdog, will conduct the inquiry which comes after two alleged fraud cases were raised in Parliament by Dale Campbell-Savours, the Labour MP for Workington.

Both instances involved JHP, one of the country's biggest employment training companies, based in Coventry, claiming payments they were not entitled to.

Officials at the NAO will examine whether the National Vocational Qualification system is being properly monitored and is open to abuse. Their study, expected to take at least six months, represents a coup for Mr Campbell-Savours who refused to help the Department of Employment with an internal inquiry into JHP, preferring to pass his information to the NAO, which he felt to be more independent.

'The NAO has agreed to hold an inquiry into all my allegations,' Mr Campbell- Savours said yesterday. He said the inquiry would be wider than JHP and would cover the whole NVQ system.

Like other specialist training companies, JHP, which was formed in 1983, has prospered from the Government's employment skills scheme and has 700 trainers and several thousand students on its books.