1. ITV Report

Welsh Government to write off £3 million student grants given in error

The Welsh Government said 'genuine misinterpretation' had led to the errors. Credit: PA

Students in Wales were wrongly handed £3.25 million in grants over the past decade.

The incorrect payments were made to students learning at home on distance learning courses. The funding was only supposed to go to those who physically attend a college. The money is given students who look after family members during their studies.

Students learning from home were incorrectly given the grants. Credit: PA

The Welsh Government will now write off the £3 million grants, blaming the error on "genuine misinterpretation" of financial support regulations for students.

The awards were made by Student Finance Wales and the Open University in Wales in good faith and have arisen solely due to a genuine misinterpretation of the regulations. I do not think that it would be fair to allow any of the students to suffer financial loss or hardship as a result of removing access to the support that they have been awarded to date.

– Kirsty Williams AM, Cabinet Secretary for Education

The education secretary added that those students who started their studies before 2018 would continue to receive the grants. In a written statement, Kirsty Williams AM said "it is vital" to look at how ten years of incorrect payments were made and that "we learn lessons to make sure that this cannot happen again in the future".

Students who began studying before 2018 will continue to receive the grants. Credit: PA

Responding to the announcement, Welsh Conservative Suzy Davies AM welcomed the news students would not have to repay the grants given in error. But the shadow education secretary questioned how it took a decade for the Wales Audit office to realise the mistake. She said Wales "deserves better".

Questions need to be answered as to which body was responsible for this, was due process followed, and why it was able to go on for so long. Equally important, why did the Wales Audit Office never pick this during the decade that this error which cost the taxpayers a sum which could have paid for dozens of teachers instead? I will be taking up this line of inquiry with the Welsh Government until the public gets the answers it deserves. Wales had enough of this government losing its money through mismanagement. This country deserves better.

– Suzy Davies AM, Shadow Education Secretary