We need to rethink taxpayer-funded grant giving

The Government’s Skills Funding Agency, alongside the European Social Fund, is subsidising a Management and Sales course provided by Lammore Consulting to the tune of £1,500 per person.

Over 15 months including six classroom days and several rounds of “one-on-one interventions” an aspiring manager can gain the Edexcel L3 Diploma in Management, L2 certificates in English, Maths & ICT and the Sector Skills Council framework Certificate from the CFA. These are undoubtedly useful, but they do not need to come at taxpayers' expense, especially when the cost to the employer can start at £500.

Paying only a quarter of the cost and leaving the rest of the bill to the taxpayer is difficult to justify. In light of the spending reductions in other areas and the continued budget deficit of close to £100 billion, one has to wonder about spending priorities. 

We need a skilled workforce to boost productivity. But if the Government is willing to pick up the tab then the incentive for companies to train their own staff is reduced. Why would they bother if they know someone else will pay? Indeed, these sort of schemes are all too commonplace, another example is the Growth Accelerator programme where the subsidy can be up to £2,900 of the £3,500 (plus VAT) total cost.

We have been campaigning for a wider war on waste, and subsidised training schemes such as these are just a small part of a wider problem. If the Government wants to help business grow then cutting red tape and bureaucracy is a simple and cost-effective way to proceed.  The Red Tape Challenge has identified over 3,000 rules and regulations for reform or elimination; a start has been made but there is a long way to go. A more stable tax system with lower rates would also mean employers would have the time and resources to train their own staff.