Academy trust accused of making false claims for Government grants

Academy trust accused of making false claims for Government grants

Academy trust accused of making false claims for Government grants – An investigation led by BBC Panorama has resulted in an academy trust responsible for running 10 UK schools being accused of ‘misusing’ funds received by the Government.

The Bright Tribe Trust, which is headquartered in Stockport near Manchester, is facing accusations that it made ‘false claims’ for Government grants.

The news comes after Panorama revealed that the academy trust received a sum of £566,000 to carry out work at Colchester Academy in Essex.

Bright Tribe was expected to use the funds to demolish, rebuild and improve ‘unstable’ walls at the academy, but according to BBC News, the trust instead “carried out a cheap repair using metal braces.”

Leaked documents from an insider suggest that the job actually only cost the trust around £60,000 – yet the Government was falsely informed that the full £566,000 had been spent.

On a separate occasion, Bright Tribe reportedly claimed another £255,000 in Government funding to aid with regards to a sports centre renovation which was again carried out to an unsatisfactory standard.

BBC News reports that the trust “failed to carry out essential fire protection work” and skimped on its responsibilities to install fire doors and fix a ceiling void deemed to be “a fire hazard.”

These are just a handful of failings Panorama shed a light on during its investigations, with others noted across schools in Cumbria and other regions, too.

Commenting, Conservative MP Trudy Harrison said that the trust’s actions were “wrong.”

However, a spokesperson on behalf of Northumberland County Council said that the Government should have done more to safeguard the money involved.

In response, businessman Michael Dwan, the founder of Bright Tribe, insisted that all of the funding received had been spent at the schools, but that his company had “made a substantial loss” on the work carried out.

He added that he personally was not a trustee, and did not have control over the trust’s actions, acting merely as an “interested observer” as work was sub-contracted to his company, Blue Support, and other organisations linked closely to him.

“I am not in control of the trusts and never have been. I am a very, very interested observer. I have never had any authority, never any decision-making power and no vote,” he said.

Academies Minister Lord Agnew said that Bright Tribe Trust should not be taken as “representative of all academies,” and that more than 95 per cent of trusts had no issues in terms of reporting academies’ finances accurately.

“We take the use of public money very seriously and will not tolerate those who try to exploit the system for personal gain. But I am clear that Bright Tribe Trust is not representative of all academies, and more than half a million children are now in good or outstanding academies that were typically previously underperforming schools, thanks to innovative trusts across the country,” he said.

Academy trust accused of making false claims for Government grants