The Education and Skills Funding Agency has terminated all its contracts with Aspire Achieve Advance Limited (3aaa), one of the UK’s largest apprenticeships providers.
The funding agency said it came to the decision following recent investigations into apprenticeship provider, which received more than £31 million in government funding last year.
As a result, the company's directors said they have put the business into administration with immediate effect.
It has since been announced that the Department for Education has passed the findings on from its ongoing investigation to specialist police officers at Action Fraud.
The company trains more than 3,000 apprentices a year.
In a statement, 3aaa said: "The ESFA confirmed there would be no further progress payments for Learners on Programme. This immediately removes the ability for the company to continue to operate.
"This affects the employees, apprentices and clients with whom 3aaa has a relationship and to whom each employer of the apprentice must now determine with whom they wish the apprentice learning should take place in the future.
"The new management had hoped that the ESFA would have allowed it to have transferred the business to another qualified operator or in the worst case arranged an orderly closure of the business. The ESFA has opted not to allow that to happen so, in these extreme circumstances, the directors have no option but to take this course following this ESFA decision.”
'Our priority is to protect the apprentices'
Last month, the company’s founders Peter Marples and Di McEvoy-Robinson said they would leave the board of 3aaa 10 years after setting the company up.
According to ESFA agency data, 3aaa received £31.5 million in apprenticeship, traineeship and adult education funding in 2017-18, the seventh highest allocation of any provider in the country.
Tes understands that an Ofsted report was due to be published in July, which 3aaa expected to pronounce it outstanding overall. However, the report has yet to be published.
In a statement, the ESFA said: “In conjunction with recent investigations, we have issued notices to terminate contracts with 3aaa. The notices will bring the contracts to an end in a three month period, in January 2019.
“During the notice period, the suspension on apprenticeship enrolments remains in place. Our investigations will continue until all concerns have been addressed.
“Our priority is to protect the apprentices and to ensure minimum disruption to their learning. We will source high-quality alternative provision as quickly as possible and support apprentices and employers to enable them to continue with their apprenticeship programme. We will write to all apprentices and employers to explain the next steps.”
The ESFA said concerned apprentices, parents, or employers can e-mail: 3.AAA@education.gov.uk