Counter-fraud measures are to be set up for the apprenticeship funding programme, the government has insisted, amid warnings from the National Audit Office that not enough care is being taken to prevent a repeat of the Individual Learning Accounts fiasco.
Worried about the repeat of the multi million pound fraud 15 years ago, the NAO has found that the Department for Education still has no contingency plan if levy and funding reforms do not work out as planned.
The DfE has stated “We are working closely with colleagues from across Government to implement counter-fraud measures for the new funding system”
The failure of the Individual Learning Accounts scheme led to a reported £67 million fraud after abuse of systems by unscrupulous and fraudulent providers and suppliers.
But, a damning report from the NAO has raised concerns that lessons have not been learned, raising the risk of “market abuse” as it warned that not enough has been done to ensure robust control mechanisms are in place to identify how providers,employers and assessment bodies implement and manage the scheme.
The Times suggests that the intrduction of the levy could lead to Shocking and prevalent examples of fraud” unless robust safeguards are put in place. The levy on the payroll bills of large employers is expected to generate £3 billion a year in 2019/20, triggering concerns about the risk of some employers and training providers using “questionable work arounds” to access and misuse public funding.
The warning was issued as new figures reveal that 114 cases of suspected fraud or misappropriation of funding were investigated by the Skills Funding Agency over a 3 year period.
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Are you an apprenticeship provider, employer provider or supporting provider who is about to resubmit an application for RoATP?
Are you contemplating your first application to become an ESFA approved apprenticeship provider?