Contract suspended after ‘missing data’

A troubled provider’s £4.5m contract with the Skills Funding Agency has been suspended after “errors and missing data” were uncovered in its learner paperwork.

Mymar Training Limited, which has indicated plans to close having failed to “secure sufficient funds for the future,” gave the agency incomplete and incorrect funding claims.

The agency said the problem could amount to a breach of contract and warned the firm, based in Plymouth, that it could be asked to pay back taxpayers’ money.

Mymar’s problems come less than a month after sister firm Walwyn Trust went into administration.

A joint statement from the agency and National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) said: “We have worked extensively with Mymar Training Limited to try to develop a quality apprenticeship programme that meets our statutory standards and offers a good experience for apprentices.

“The agency has been informed by Mymar that it was unable to secure sufficient funds for the future and therefore has announced its planned closure.

“The agency has been in discussion with Mymar as sufficient evidence to support errors and missing data in their funding claims hadn’t been received by the agency.

“The agency has suspended all future payments until sufficient evidence is received by the agency.

“If this evidence is not received, this constitutes a breach of contract.

“The agency will seek to recover any funding that is found to have not been delivered in accordance with contractual requirements.”

Mymar’s phoneline goes to answerphone and FE Week was unable to contact its chief executive who according to LinkedIn, has been Bill Haynes since September 2011. The website also listed him as current chairman of Ekode Holdings and former chief executive of Verridian PLC.

An email on Thursday, January 17, leaked to FE Week by a former Mymar employee, that appears to be from Mr Haynes, said Mymar was ceasing trading with “immediate effect” and that staff would not be paid.

It added: “Sadly and surprisingly we heard yesterday that the SFA were no longer willing to support our position and withdrew the financial support plan, thereby effectively removing our total income by clawing back the entire payment due for the month, consequently rendering the business insolvent.

“The money received from investors is simply not enough and without the support of an SFA plan for structured repayment we are unable to attract more.”

The correspondence drew a strong response from the agency whose joint statement with NAS said: “The responsibility for ensuring Mymar meets its obligations to employees rests solely with the company itself and any suggestion the failure to pay staff is due to agency actions is entirely refuted.”

It added: “We have written to learners to advise that we are working to place them with alternative providers, and where necessary employers, so they can complete their learning.

“NAS is using its apprenticeship vacancies system to help find quality opportunities for those who were on an apprenticeship programme with Mymar and Walwyn Trust.

“The agency will be arranging the collection of all learner portfolios from Mymar.

“Any concerned apprentices, parents or guardians can contact the agency’s e-mail address: mymar@skillsfundingagency.bis.gov.uk

“For any enquiries regarding any payments due, learners, parents and guardians are encouraged to contact their local Job Centre Plus.”