Pounds 40 million paid out in error
Training and enterprise councils administering the programmes and trainees themselves were awarded the cash in error during 1994-95 by the then Department for Employment.
The total, highlighted this week in a National Audit Office report, is almost Pounds 8 million more than the overpayments on the same schemes by the department the previous year.
The increase in the level of errors is concerning Sir John Bourn, the auditor general. He has pledged to keep a close eye on the Department for Education and Employment's efforts to tighten controls.
TEC National Council policy director Chris Humphries said under a fifth of the overpaid cash was the result of over claims by TECs. Mistakes by the Employment Department in assessing who was eligible for the training courses led to the other overpayments.
Mr Humphries said: "We have tightened up on audit claim checking. Part of the issue is making sure we know when providers sign off trainees."
Once it is identified, overpaid cash is reclaimed by the DFEE.