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Red tape battle widens to firms

THE bureaucracy-busting taskforce is extending its work to target private companies funded by the Learning and Skills Council.

Sir George Sweeney, chairman of the group, said private learning suppliers faced the same problems of LSC bureaucracy as colleges. The taskforce has been revamped and expanded to bring in key players from industry.

More than 1,700 companies are funded by the LSC. They offer everything from specialist tuition to training of people with disabilities. They range from outfits with 10 trainees to groups as big as a medium-sized FE college.

Unveiling the plans for firms, Sir George also promised new measures to see through big cuts to red tape in colleges.

And he challenged recent claims by the Association of Colleges that "colleges face a new surge in bureaucracy" because of a raft of new targets spelled out in the Success for All White Paper.

"I can see why people might see it this way but I cannot agree with them," he said.

"We have got to work with national and local councils. Meeting new targets does not have to be a bureaucratic process. We must build a relationship of trust."

The names of "pathfinder" colleges - to try out ways of cutting red tape - and wider measures to implement the recommendations of the taskforce would be announced soon, he said.

Sir George said the cuts in red tape would take time to feed through. "Like driving a car, the crash is happening by the time you apply the brakes," he said "The LSC is committed to rooting-out burdensome bureaucracy as part of a wider government demand to cut red tape," he said. "We are seeing the death throes of the old bureaucracy."

A new group will be set up to review and cut the bureaucratic burdens on the work-based learning sector, and monitor progress on recommendations in the previous taskforce report, Trust in the Future, which promised a new relationship of "trust and transparency", for colleges.

Regional consultations between the taskforce and learning providers start next month.

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