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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 06:24 GMT
New learning scheme unveiled
Adult education class
The original scheme was launched in 2000
Ministers have unveiled the learning scheme which will replace the ill-fated Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs).

Scots will be able to claim up to 200 a year to fund training courses under a new Scottish Executive initiative.

The government suspended the Individual Learning Account scheme in 2001 amid allegations of abuse.

Enterprise Minister Jim Wallace said the new ILA Scotland scheme would initially be targeted at those earning les than 15,000 a year.

The initiative is due to be running by the summer, with a universal scheme due to be rolled out by April next year.

Public bodies

More than 260,000 accounts were set up after the UK-wide ILA scheme opened in Scotland in July 2000.

However, the following summer public bodies throughout Britain began to receive complaints.

The scheme was closed down later that year amid fears of fraud by some learning providers.

We are putting in place a number of measures and safeguards to ensure that this scheme is a success
Jim Wallace
Enterprise Minister
Earlier this month a report by Holyrood's audit committee said 1.2m was wasted on irregular and fraudulent claims.

MSPs said the scheme - designed to widen access to education and training - had been "fundamentally flawed".

The committee said the scheme was set up "in haste" without proper security systems.

However, Mr Wallace told the Scottish Parliament's enterprise committee that the new scheme would not be open to abuse.

He said: "It has been essential to take the time necessary to ensure that lessons from the first scheme have been learned.

'Dead wood'

"We are putting in place a number of measures and safeguards to ensure that this scheme is a success."

The minister said he wanted to focus on people on low incomes because last time more than half of the learners were "dead wood" - people who could have paid for courses without the scheme.

Learning providers will have to sign contracts to benefit from the ILA Scotland initiative and will be subject to more rigid checks, including surprise visits.

The new scheme will be managed by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) and the Scottish University for Industry (SufI), which is also known as Learn Direct Scotland.


SEE ALSO:
Learning scheme 'was flawed'
08 Jan 04  |  Scotland
'Learning' scam cost revealed
16 Sep 03  |  Scotland
Training scheme failures exposed
13 Mar 03  |  Scotland
One third of ILA money mis-spent
30 Jan 03  |  Education
Training scheme debate 'suppressed'
21 Dec 01  |  Scotland


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