No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

ILAs – select committee savages handling of scheme


The Education and Skills Select Committee has published its report on the Individual Learning Account Scheme. It's long and detailed, and written in a style peculiar to this kind of publication, so you may prefer the list of conclusions and recommendations. Highlights of the latter are quoted below.

The DfES gets a thorough hammering in the report, and Capita (and the department's continuing relationship with Capita) does not come out of it at all well. Generally the contracting procedure is blamed for failing either to place the risk and responsibility in the private sector, or to accept their implications within the DfES: "We find it hard to credit that Capita, a major player in winning contracts for work contracted out to the private sector, should not have pointed out that, without a quality threshold for providers, the ILA was a disaster waiting to happen. The culpability of Capita was matched by that of the Department, in particular for not demanding more robust anti­fraud mechanisms in their specification." The main conclusions relate to the terms of public-private arrangements, quality assurance and accreditation, and the influence of a scheme of this scope on providers in the marketplace. The Treasury also comes in for some stick, for failing to declare openly how much influence it had on the decision to close the scheme.

Positive recommendations were also offered, and the potential of a broadly available training scheme was reaffirmed.

The committee are recommending that the DfES "should at least re-imburse those bona fide learning providers who can demonstrate that they have been financially disadvantaged by the accelerated date of closure of the scheme." Trainers may also be glad to note that, in the full report, the opinions of several training providers are quoted with interest and respect: there is perhaps some chance that the experience of established professional trainers may be drawn upon rather more for the successor scheme, and that the necessity of stability in the training market will be taken into account.

Highlights of the lessons to be learned, quoted from the report
The Department should have undertaken a full risk assessment of the ILA scheme, which should have been aimed not at designing all risk out of the programme, but rather at understanding the level of risk which was being accepted in return for a recognised benefit such as ease of access.

Partnership with private sector:

- There should not be an automatic assumption that Capita should be the provider to take forward any new ILA scheme. The Committee notes the contrast between the Department's continuing co-operation with Capita and its refusal to consider compensation for learning providers.
- By retaining even the smallest details of policy design within the Department, an opportunity was missed to transfer the risks to the private sector by transferring fuller responsibility for the management of the scheme to the private sector.
- It is not clear who was responsible for delivering the specific outcomes of the ILA project. There does appear to have been some confusion of responsibilities.
- We do not under-estimate the difficulty of getting right the balance between policy and delivery, but we question whether the DfES could have been bolder and given Capita a wider brief to deliver the desired outcomes of the ILA project.

Quality Assurance

Quality assurance is the one indispensable feature that needs to be built in from the start if the new version of the ILA is to succeed. Prior accreditation of providers would be essential; post-payment audit checks should be carefully targeted, based on a risk profile of providers and their claims. Prior accreditation should be designed to ensure that any obstacles to new providers and innovation are minimized.

An appropriate accreditation body

- We would expect the Learning and Skills Council to take the lead in prior accreditation, with a fast-track registration process for providers with a proven track record of delivering quality training. ... National providers, and providers of on-line or distance learning, will almost certainly need to be registered at a national level.


- We recommend (a) that the educational and social objectives of any successor scheme should be defined before determining a delivery mechanism and financial support criteria which advance those objectives and (b) that those objectives should be closely integrated with other aspects of policy towards lifelong learning.

Payment in stages

- We expect that the new ILA system will include some kind of staged payment system, perhaps combined with early notification to the individual of how their ILA has been spent.

Advice and guidance

- We recommend that provision should be made to pay for advice and guidance where this can be demonstrated to advance the objectives of the scheme in terms of reaching the target audience.

Group learning

- We see the possibility of some form of pooling in the successor to ILAs as a promising area for future development.

Timing and consultation

- We are not satisfied that the Government understood, at a sufficiently early stage, the effect of the sudden closure of the scheme on providers. Many of the smaller and more innovative providers may be unwilling to risk entry into a second ILA scheme without a contractual arrangement with the Department.
- The new form of ILA should be a permanent and successful part of the lifelong learning strategy.


- We support Ministers in their determination to learn the lessons from the collapse of the first version of ILAs and to bring forward as soon as practicable a more robust version which is capable of expanding adult learning, to the benefit of each learner and the nation as a whole.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!