Blame providers for underspend

30th May 2003 at 01:00
Your article "Post-16 quango sitting on cash pile" (TES, May 23) presents a misleading picture. The Learning and Skills Council's record on fund management is the best in class and would be the envy of most public bodies.

There is no question of the LSC sitting on funds. The major reason for the underspend was the failure of providers to take up funding which had been allocated to programme activities.

While the annual accounts do indeed show a small underspend of pound;128 million - around 2 per cent of a total budget of more than pound;5 billion - this has now been spent to support education and training in 20023.

It is unreasonable to compare the results as published in the annual accounts with the LSC's resource allocation detailed in the grant letter from the secretary of state. This letter is issued many months earlier and there are always variations during any year reflecting additional Department for Education and Skills priorities. The resources also include activities to be delivered over more than one year.

As for administration costs, the expenditure noted in the piece includes the costs of setting up the LSC, and covers a 19-month period.

The delay in issuing accounts arose because many colleges were late sending in their assurances of spending. We anticipate a similar situation this year.

Bryan Sanderson (chairman) andJohn Howard (chief executive) Learning and Skills Council

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