LifeSkills goes into administration after DfE finds ‘data irregularities’

Almost 500 students and 80 staff impacted

Almost 500 students and 80 staff impacted

A specialist training provider has gone bust after a government funding audit found “data irregularities”.

LifeSkills Solutions has five centres around the country in Leeds, Sheffield, Lowestoft, Basildon and Rotherham which provide training through apprenticeships and study programme for those “not engaged in the school system”.

The social enterprise, which launched in 2002, ceased trading today and made 80 staff redundant.

The company currently has over 470 students who will now need to find alternative training providers so they can complete their training.

‘We are incredibly sad to be in this situation’

A spokesperson for LifeSkills, said: “Over the last 20 years, LifeSkills has done some wonderful work and we are proud to have supported the learning of over 22,000 young people. While we have tried everything to save the company, this has not been possible, and we are incredibly sad to be in this situation – we would like to thank our brilliant team for all of their hard work and for creating a truly wonderful company.”

The closure follows a funding audit by the Education and Skills Funding Agency which identified “data irregularities”.

The ESFA audits providers to make sure they are claiming funding correctly and completing data checks. If any irregularities are found, they have the power to recover funding or even trigger a criminal investigation.

LifeSkills said that due to an “ongoing dispute” with the agency following the audit, its funding has been “affected” which made the social enterprise “unviable”.

It is unclear when the audit took place and exactly what data irregularities were found. Neither LifeSkills nor the ESFA would share further details.

LifeSkills has tried to find a buyer for the company in recent weeks but none were found.

The company was set last inspected by Ofsted in 2016. The report, which resulted in ‘good’ judgements across the board, praised staff for their dedication to helping learners who have complex personal and social needs.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Lifeskills Solutions Ltd have notified us of their intention to go into administration following a funding audit that identified data irregularities.

“We are working with Lifeskills to find alternative high quality training providers for the learners affected so that they can complete their training.”

Kris Wigfield and Joanne Hammond of Begbies Traynor have been appointed as joint administrators.

Wigfield said: “Our immediate priority over the coming days will be to assist the students and employees as much as we possibly can.”

Parents or learners are urged to contact a dedicated LifeSkills mailbox should they need further guidance lifeskillssolutions.ltd@education.gov.uk.

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