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Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 3rd May 2011.

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Photo of Priti Patel Priti Patel Conservative, Witham

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 4 March 2011, Official Report, columns 720-22W, on trade unions: training, under what budget headings Union Learn spent funding provided by (a) the Union Learning Fund, (b) the Skills Funding Council, (c) the Learning and Skills Council, (d) the European Social Fund and (e) regional development agencies.

Photo of John Hayes John Hayes The Minister for Universities and Science, The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) provides funding directly to the Trades Union Congress (TUC) under an annual grant agreement to support the Union Learning Fund (ULF) and unionlearn, the TUC’s learning and skills organisation. The main purpose of this budget is to enable trade unions and union learning representatives (ULRs) to work with employers, employees and learning providers to encourage greater take-up of learning and raise skill levels in the workplace.

The budget headings under which this grant is provided by the Department, and under which spending is monitored on a monthly basis, are as follows:

Staffing and On Costs,

Other Staff Related Costs,

General Running Costs,

Accommodation and Overheads,

Trade Union Education Support and

ULF (Grants to Unions).

All projects supported under ULF are considered in a competitive bidding process by the Union Learning Fund Assessment Panel, comprising representatives from the Department, the TUC and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA). Each project has a separate contract with the TUC with defined learning targets and budget headings that are linked to project strands and the outcomes of that particular project. Funding is only provided in arrears and on production of evidence of spend against plans by way of invoices and proof of purchase/payment and trade unions code the money in such a way that it is separately identifiable for audit purposes. Information on the budget headings for every project that is supported under ULF is not held centrally by the Department and collating this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The TUC has also received funding to support unionlearn activity at a regional level from the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) (formerly the Learning and Skills Council), the European social fund (ESF) and a number of regional development agencies (RDA). Detailed information on the specific budget headings relating to such expenditure will be held at a regional level for audit purposes but is not recorded centrally. An exercise to research and collate such information for each SFA region and RDA would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold.

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