Cable to face MPs’ questions over failed apprentice loans policy

Business Secretary Vince Cable is this week expected to be grilled by MPs about the failed apprenticeship FE loans system.

Adrian Bailey, chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee, said he planned to question Dr Cable on 24+ advanced learning loans during a session starting around 10.15am on Wednesday. The session is to focus more widely on the BIS annual report.

Mr Bailey told FE Week that he also planned  to ask Dr Cable about government figures, published in December, that showed in the 2012/13 academic year there were 10,400 fewer apprenticeship starts than in 2011/12 — a fall of 2 per cent.

Mr Bailey said: “I can’t go into detail about the exact nature of my questions ahead of the session, but Dr Cable will be questioned about his department’s annual report and one of the things we will be asking him is about the problems with FE loans. We will certainly be looking at the decision to cancel 24+ apprenticeship loans.

“I am also concerned about the fall in apprenticeship starts and the effect that could have on social mobility and will question him about that.”

It comes after Dr Cable exclusively confirmed to FE Week before Christmas that the government was “dropping” the troubled 24+ advanced learning loans system for apprenticeships.

With just 404 applications in around seven months up to December, he “accepted” the system had failed, but said non-apprentice FE loans would remain.