18th December 2009 at 00:00
`Value added?' and `Expenses tastes'

Value added?

It's that time of year when we look back on the achievements of the last 12 months, and even the decade.

Presumably it was in this spirit the Tory shadow skills secretary David Willetts enquired about how the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) bonus payments had fared since the funding body's inception in 2001.

Amazingly, everyone soldiered on without a bonus for the first two years, but that error was soon corrected. And once the scheme was in place, the value of bonuses shot up from pound;3.6 million to pound;4.5 million in just six years.

At the same time, the numbers of LSC staff fell by more than 1,000, so the cash per head more or less doubled.

The particular justification for this year's bonus was that the funding body had hit its government targets for the number of qualifications achieved.

But last time FErret checked, students achieved qualifications through their hard work and the dedication of their teachers, rather than through the machinations of bean counters at the LSC. Where is the bonus for them?

Expenses tastes

The latest instalment of the MPs' expenses saga has arrived. How are the overlords of FE faring?

Somehow they are struggling on without bell towers, so well done for that. But our concern was piqued by FE minister Kevin Brennan's plea to the fees office that it pay promptly.

A handwritten note accompanying his most recent claim form said: "Please could you ensure the former is processed without delay."

A bit rich, considering the City of Westminster and Thames Water both had to send him overdue notices for unpaid bills. Or perhaps the struggle to live on a ministerial salary was what made prompt payment of expenses so crucial.

But at least now colleges that feel they struggle to extract money from the minister know they are not alone.

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