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Learning accounts to reopen

The Scottish Executive has finally launched a successor to the discredited scheme of individual learning accounts (ILAs).

The announcement was made by Jim Wallace, Lifelong Learning Minister, when he gave evidence on Tuesday to the Scottish Parliament's enterprise committee on the lessons learnt from the first exercise, which collapsed and led to police investigations into fraudulent claims by training providers.

Symbolically, the new scheme will be known as ILA Scotland, underlining the fact that the new version will not be "piggy-backing" on the English scheme.

It will be available from this summer but will be restricted to those on incomes of less than pound;15,000 a year. A more universal scheme, focusing initially on those who need basic qualifications and ICT skills, will be introduced from April next year.

Learners can claim up to pound;200 a year to fund a course of their choice and have to contribute at least pound;10 of their own money.

Safeguards for the scheme will be the responsibility of the Student Awards Agency for Scotland and the Scottish University for Industry. They will be expected to enter into clear contracts with learning providers and establish "stringent quality assurance".

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