Academies keeping their finances shrouded in mystery, council told

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Academies in Wakefield are keeping their finances a secret despite the council’s attempts to build up a picture of their accounts.

Schools which are not run by the local authority can use private cash to fund themselves, but are not legally obliged to make their accounts public.

Wakefield Council has written to all academies in the district, asking them whether or not they have a surplus, but less than a third replied.

The local authority did this after concerns were raised that only schools they maintain were being held to account about their finances.

Speaking at a children, young people and skills overview meeting, committee chair David Jones said: “For those of us who spend the midnight hours looking at balance sheets of academies, sometimes you see huge amounts of money hanging in accounts.”

Coun Jones asked  Marium Haque, the council’s director of education and inclusion, how much financial information about academies was known. 

Marium Haque said that the issue had been raised at Wakefield’s Schools Forum, which scrutinises the work of schools and academies in the district.

She said: “Some people felt it was unfair that we were discussing only deficits at local authority maintained schools.

“They felt it would be fair for us to look at the accounts of academies as well.

“We’ve asked all academies voluntarily, because they don’t have to tell us, whether or not they had a surplus.

“Around 30 per cent of those run by academy trusts replied and about 70 per cent didn’t.

“We can’t publish any information without their agreement.”