In response to John Stone's letter ("Not so fast with the quango bonfire", FE Focus, July 23): while I am not "riveted", I do take an interest in how he conducts business. I am sure other competitors of the Learning and Skills Network (LSN) would also like to learn if there is any unfair advantage due to the LSN's charitable status and funding history.
I am keen to learn the following from Mr Stone, who says that LSN "separated from Government in 2006":
- Were any cash reserves that LSN held when it separated in 2006 repaid to the Government, or did the company benefit from any of these after this date? If so, why?
- If any cash remained with LSN after the separation, has it been used to acquire commercial organisations subsequently?
- Can he explain how the proceeds of LSN's activities are "reinvested in education and training"? If this includes selling consultancy services, then many others might claim the same. If it is through charitable donations, I would be interested in a detailed list of beneficiaries since 2006.
LSN's annual report for the year to March 2009 states that of pound;40 million income, pound;35 million was from the Learning and Skills Improvement Service; pound;2 million from the Department for Children, Schools and Families and pound;2 million from the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland. Mr Stone is correct that LSN is not directly funded by Government - it is indirectly funded by them.
Since March 2009, LSN has made new acquisitions, which have made it even more commercially involved in the sector. Maybe it is less reliant on Government funding. If so, perhaps Mr Stone could supply a breakdown of income for the year to March 2010. After all, it is a registered charity and we have a legal right to know exactly how charities' funds are used and distributed.
Malcolm Cooper, Managing director, MCA Cooper Associates