Austin Macauley 10 June 2014

Report: funding agency urged to get a grip on academies

Report: funding agency urged to get a grip on academies image

The governance of England’s growing number of academies is going unchecked due to failings by the agency responsible for funding schools, according to MPs.

A report by the Committee of Public Accounts said potential conflicts of interest and a general lack of financial transparency was not being tackled.

‘The Education Funding Agency’s work has expanded rapidly and, while it has succeeded in getting money out to schools on time, it has not yet got to grips with effective oversight of how that money is spent,’ said committee chair Margaret Hodge.

The EFA, which manages £54bn of funding a year for state schools, has no way of knowing whether academy chief executives and trustees are ‘fit-and-proper persons’, she said.

‘We were concerned that individuals with connections to both academy trusts and private companies may have benefitted from their position when providing trusts with goods and services. The agency has reviewed 12 such cases but it is likely that many more exist and have gone unchallenged.

‘The Department for Education takes the view that these so-called “related-party transactions” are acceptable. We feel that they are always open to accusations of conflicts of interests, even when supposedly on a not-for-profit basis, and this serves to undermine public confidence. We are therefore calling on the agency to reconsider its policy which permits related-party transactions.’

She said the agency was ‘too reactive’ and did not spot risks or intervene in schools quickly enough.

‘It needs more complete, accurate and timely information on academies’ finances and to get much tougher on those who fail to comply with reporting requirements: nearly one in ten academy trusts failed to submit their accounts on time last year,’ she said.

The committee has called on the EFA to introduce a ‘fit and proper persons test’ at individual academy and academy trust level.

Mrs Hodge said: ‘We recognise the scale of the task that the agency faces as it deals with an expanding workload whilst reducing its costs by 15%. But it is essential that the agency now gets to grips with effective oversight to improve public confidence in the system.’

Overcoming the barriers to Commercial Card use image

Overcoming the barriers to Commercial Card use

Want to reap the benefits of Commercial Cards but coming up against some challenges? James Sykes, Head of Commercial Cards, Lloyds Bank and David Legg, Head of Corporate Card Products, Lloyds Bank, discuss how the payments industry is helping organisations unlock their true value.
SIGN UP
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Planning Policy Manager

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£61.470 - £64.704
Be part of Greenwich's vision to successfully accommodate a high level of sustainable growth, which... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Refuse Driver (Rolling Advert - applications checked weekly)

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£30.032 - £31.610
It is an exciting time in Street Services at the Royal Borough of Greenwich. Be part of a team who are... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Commercial Contracts and Procurement Solicitor

North Yorkshire County Council
£32,910 to £43,857
Due to positive growth we are looking for Solicitors to join our Commercial Contracts and Procurements team. Homeworking
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

General Legal Counsel – Corporate and Commercial

North Yorkshire County Council
£39,880 to £43,857
Are you looking for a legal career which is rewarding and offers the perfect blend of public and private sector working? Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Corporate Credit Control Officer

Camden London Borough Council
£34,033
The post holder will act as the expert point of contact on all issues to instigate and conduct cases of appointee ship. Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue