Training agency 'milked taxpayers': School careers services to be privatised
Ann Widdecombe, Under-Secretary of State for Employment, announced a pilot scheme for contractors to run the careers service for schools and colleges, while Frank Dobson, Labour's employment spokesman, accused the company that took over the Skills Training Agency of a 'scandalous' use of state funds.
Civil servants who bought 45 skill centres in a management buy-out were accused of either breaking the rules governing the dispensation of public money or taking advantage of 'sloppy' regulations.
Mr Dobson alleged that Astra, the company formed by Whitehall officials, had accepted between pounds 600 and pounds 1,000 of government money for placing each of its trainees in employment that only lasted for a short period.
He said: 'If Astra has not broken the rules, then the ministers who set the rules should resign. Nobody in their right mind would say that the company should receive pounds 1,000 for placing someone in employment for a week.' He said that the National Audit Office had qualified Astra's accounts for three years running.
Government critics want an independent inquiry into the way pounds 2.5bn is spent on training and other help for the unemployed. The 102 employer- led Training and Enterprise Councils and Local Enterprise Companies are partly on 'output-related funding' and may be tempted to resort to unacceptable activities to increase their budgets, the Opposition believes.
Mr Dobson said Labour had evidence that at least one TEC had offered the unemployed financial incentives to say they had secured jobs.
Managers at Astra yesterday referred all inquires to Arthur Anderson, the receivers, who said that the allegations would be investigated.
Ms Widdecombe said tenders were being sought to begin running 13 local careers services by next April. The aim over the next four years would be to offer all 108 services for tendering.
- 2 Tower Bridge glass walkway 'smashed' by night-time visitor dropping bottle of beer
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Anti-gay hate preacher accidentally tweets 4,000 followers cartoon clip of him 'confessing' to be a 'homosexual sodomite'
Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Kenya bus attack: Al-Shabaab militants slaughter 28 non-Muslims who failed to recite Koran
That Sugar Film director Damon Gameua receives shocking diagnosis after going on healthy sugar diet for just 60 days
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Myleene Klass: Ed Miliband 'strikes back' by comparing UK's need for Labour's mansion tax to Hear'Say track
Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...
£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...