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Individual Learning Accounts – What should replace them?


The withdrawal of Individual Learning Accounts in England has been greeted with widespread disppointment. At present no new accounts can be opened in England, while in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the administrators "will develop proposals to reflect their own priorities." It is not clear what will replace the scheme in England.

MPs reacted angrily to the withdrawal of ILAs, particularly the LibDems, who claimed credit for the idea in the first place. Many commentators have suggested that, while loopholes permitting fraud have to be closed, the scheme should in fact be extended. Closing and replacing it could lose the momentum and massive response that ILAs have generated.

The ILA website has produced a Q&A to inform account holders and training providers of the reasons for the withdrawal. This explains the concern over fraud, but also admits that the popularity of the scheme has been part of the problem. Aiming to get one million account holders, the scheme has attracted 2.5 million. It has also been taken up in the main by people already receptive to undertaking more training, and has probably not reached as many people at the bottom of the skills ladder as had been hoped. But it seems wasteful to penalise the scheme for its success in some areas, and disastrous to take away an unprecedentedly popular training initiative when the need for lifelong learning is more evident than ever. What are required are further incentives for companies, and particularly small companies, to support training.

Training providers World of Training have suggested one possible incentive: remove VAT from training. Since much of the VAT on training is reclaimed by companies, the costs to the Treasury would not be great. The cost difference of courses for individual learners would be considerable. And this change would involve no significant administrative burden.

At TrainingZone we want to know your reactions: what could replace ILAs, and what national incentives are needed to get more of the population into training? Add your comments below.

Individual Learning Account Q&As

World of Training


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