Jeff Cuthbert, Deputy Minister for Skills
I issued a written statement on 12 March 2012 regarding A4e, a group of companies that deliver government funded learning and support for non-employed persons throughout the United Kingdom and further afield. The company is subject to a police investigation in respect of suspected fraud by its staff in Berkshire.
I advised that A4e (Wales) Ltd, one of its subsidiary companies, has a £6,101,831 Work Based Learning contract with the Welsh Government for 2011/2012. A4e is also in receipt of European funds through six European Social Fund projects. The total value of these contracts is £6.6m.
The Work Based Learning Programme is subject to audit by the Welsh Government's Provider Assurance and Governance Service (PAGS). An audit of A4e (Wales) Ltd took place in November 2010 and did not identify any errors. However, as a result of the allegations with regard to funds provided by the Department for Work and Pensions in England, PAGS commenced a routine audit on the 5 March 2012. This audit tested activity from November 2010 to the current period and results were consistent with the previous review. No errors were identified and whilst no audit can give absolute assurance, we can place reasonable assurance that A4e (Wales) Ltd is applying the Welsh Government’s Work Based Learning funds in a manner consistent with the purposes for which the funds have been given; and in compliance with the conditions attached to the payment of those funds.
With regard to assurance on the European Social Fund Projects, this work is still ongoing; the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) will ensure that the assurance obtained is shared with public funding partners.