The government abruptly closed down its£260m flagship training programme after finding a 'breach' in a computer system run by Capita, the publicly quoted services company. The minister for lifelong learning at the department for education and skills, John Healey, told the Financial Times(p1) that large amounts of confidential data had got out of the Capita-run system and could be used to make false claims for government grants. Ministers were told many lists might be circulating in the open market, giving unscrupulous trainers the chance to claim millions without delivering services. 'There was evidence of serious potential theft and fraud of individual data and the potential for a huge loss to the public purse,' he said.
The collapse of the government's most ambitious training scheme for decades leaves Capita - which ran the its cornerstone information technology system - in the spotlight. The company, which grew from its roots in local councils to be admitted to the FTSE 100 index of top businesses in 2000, has a hugely lucrative client in the government. It has contracts across local government, central government and education as well as the private sector, and a reputation for reliability and capability, reports the Financial Times(p5).
CAPITA #3: MULTI-MILLION-POUND FRAUD 'SCAMS' EXPLOITED LAX CONTROLS
By the time the government shut Individual Learning Accounts, fraudsters registered as legitimate training providers had pocketed millions of pounds with fraudulent 'scams' that exploited slack controls, reports the Financial Times(p5).
IN DEPTH: SCHOOL BULLIES FACE EXPULSION UNDER NEW DISCIPLINARY CRACKDOWN
Persistent school bullies will be told there is no way back into the classroom under new disciplinary measures to be launched this week. Secretary of state for education and skills Estelle Morris is to order school disciplinary panels to put bullying and carrying an offensive weapon on the list of offences for which expelled pupils should not be allowed to return to school. The announcement follows a survey by the National Union of Teachers that showed 80 per cent of staff believe discipline in schools has deteriorated over the past decade, and figures produced by the children's charity Kidscape, which reveal that more than a million secondary schoolchildren are bullied a year, reports The Independent(p6).
FIRST LONDON PAY REVIEW FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS AIMS TO KEEP KEY WORKERS IN CAPITAL
A new review of London pay allowances begins next week in an attempt to stop essential workers being priced out of the capital
an attempt to stop essential workers being priced out of the capital. Alastair Hatchett of Incomes Data Services, which compiled the London pay allowances figures, said the problem affected a much wider area than London. Bill Knight, who will lead the review, said: 'If we do our job properly, our report should help those who negotiate pay to set a fair London premium,' reports The Independent(p6).
-- Employers could be asked to assist with the integration of economic migrants and refugees into society in a 'buddy' scheme, the home secretary David Blunkett said yesterday, reports the Financial Times (p2).
-- Society Guardianlooks in detail at recruitmentfrom the private sector into public services. This is on the increase but can be 'an alien expe rience for some,' it says.
by assistant editor Neil Watson