Career development loans are a successful programme administered by the Learning and Skills Council to help individuals invest in improving their skills. Loan capital is provided by three high street banks at commercial rates. The Learning and Skills Council meets interest costs on loans while individuals are participating in their chosen course. Since 1997, 160,000 loans have been lent by the banks, with a total value of £689 million.
I welcome the scheme, but I should like to bring to my hon. Friend’s attention a case involving one of my constituents and his son, who took out an £8,000 loan, which was paid to a training provider who then disappeared with the money, leaving my constituent with debt. Will my hon. Friend look into the issue to ensure that there is not a wider problem with the vetting of training providers? And what will happen to my constituent and his son, who still have to pay back the £8,000?
I am genuinely sympathetic to anyone who has been affected as my hon. Friend’s constituents have. In general, career development loans work. Of those who take them out, 85 per cent. have said that they would recommend the scheme to a family member or friend. That would not be happening if there was systematic failure. In the small number of cases where a provider has ceased training, the Learning and Skills Council has taken steps to allow individuals with loans to delay the repayments, extend their loans to complete training elsewhere and protect their credit rating. I understand that my hon. Friend’s constituents were written to to that effect. However, given the concerns that she has expressed, I would be more than happy to meet her and discuss the issue in detail.