Option: End the Train to Gain programme, created in 2006 to “support employers improve the skills of their employees”.
Saving: Around £1.4bn a year. Last year it paid for around 1.2m people start a course at a “unit cost” of £970.
The case to cut it: A White Elephant on stilts. Undoubtedly well-intentioned. But no excuse for wasting money paying the private sector to do what they would have done anyway. The NAO found that half the £1.4bn was given away with no discernable benefit to the taxpayer. The “success rate” of some training providers is as low as 8 per cent. Around half of employers reported no improvement in profit margins, sales or productivity. Just administering the scheme has cost £638m over the last three years. Will make little on no dent in the £20bn spent by private sector on on-the-job training. But will make a difference to the exchequer. Remember, the £1.4bn on Train to Gain is more than is spent on the entire Foreign Office.
The case to save it: One of the few ways to encourage employers to pay for skills training the economy needs. Around half actually contributed to training costs. A vital part of a “growth strategy” that allows Britain to keep pace with emerging economies. Overall the programme increased the quality and quantity of training. A success rate of 71 per cent for more than 1m learners, many of whom are “hard to reach”. Vital for Britain’s long term competitiveness.
***“Cut Of The Day” is an occasional series running up to the Autumn spending review. It will be as arbitrary, brutish and irregular as the whims of the Treasury axemen. So you may see a few examples on a single day, or none at all. Past options include linking public sector pensions to CPI.