Select Committee on Education and Skills Third Report

Education and Skills Committee

The Education and Skills Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department for Education and Skills and its associated public bodies.

Current Membership

Mr Barry Sheerman MP ( Labour, Huddersfield) (Chairman)
Mr John Baron MP (Conservative, Billericay)
Mr David Chaytor MP (Labour, Bury North)
Valerie Davey MP (Labour, Bristol West)
Jeff Ennis MP (Labour, Barnsley East & Mexborough)
Paul Holmes MP (Liberal Democrat, Chesterfield)
Ms Meg Munn MP (Labour, Sheffield Heeley)
Mr Kerry Pollard MP (Labour, St Albans)
Jonathan Shaw MP (Labour, Chatham and Aylesford)
Mr Mark Simmonds MP (Conservative, Boston & Skegness)
Mr Andrew Turner MP (Conservative, Isle of Wight)

The Committee is one of the departmental select committees, the powers of which are set out in House of Commons Standing Orders, principally in S.O. No.152. These are available on the Internet via

The Reports and evidence of the Committee are published by The Stationery Office by Order of the House. All publications of the Committee (including press notices) are on the Internet at

All correspondence should be addressed to The Clerk of the Education and Skills Committee, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA. The telephone number for general inquiries is: 020 7219 1376/6181. The Committee's e-mail address is: [email protected]

In the footnotes of this Report, references to oral evidence are indicated by 'Q' followed by the question number. References to written evidence are indicated by the page number as in 'Ev 12'. The oral and written evidence is published separately in Volume II (HC 561-II)


In this fast­track report, we suggest that there were serious failings by the Department for Education and Skills in the preparation and running of the Individual Learning Account [ILA] scheme. We also criticise Capita, the Department's private sector contractor charged with key elements of ILA delivery, for their considerable shortcomings.

The scheme was withdrawn in the autumn of 2001 amidst concerns that its rapid growth had outstripped its expected cost to public funds. There were suspicions of substantial abuse by some learning providers. Over its first two years, spending on the ILA was at least £60 million higher than the expected £200 million.

We analyse the failure of a Government flagship education project.

We strongly support the concept of ILAs, particularly for the simplicity of the scheme and its attractiveness to learners.

We make strong recommendations that we expect to inform the swift introduction of a new ILA Scheme, with better quality assurance. The new scheme will need a sharper focus on the kind of skills learning it wishes to promote. It must not be vulnerable to fraud and abuse.

The lessons drawn from the ILA experience should be studied carefully by other Government Departments.

We recommend that our Report should be debated.

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