Latest Public Sector News

11.05.12

PAC calls for clearer responsibility on school finance

More robust spending checks are needed for schools and academies, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said.

The MPs suggest that it is unclear how responsibility for ensuring value for money is divided up between the various organisations that manage education provision.

The committee is also “alarmed” by “worrying expenditure” such as high staff salaries in academies. More consistent requirements for data must be applied to all schools, the report recommends.

It says: “We are concerned that the accountability framework is not sufficiently robust to address operational or financial failure of service providers.

“The department needs to do more work to clearly define how funding streams will be monitored, audit arrangements, and processes to support whistle-blowers.”

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of PAC, said: “As the Government devolves the delivery of education and children’s services inEngland, it becomes ever more important for the department to tell us exactly how accountability to Parliament is going to work so that we can properly follow the taxpayer’s pound.

“We remain very concerned at the weakness of the proposed arrangements to ensure accountability for value for money.”

A Department for Education spokesperson responded: “Local authorities are statutorily responsible for ensuring effective financial management in their schools and we are strengthening arrangements for the assurances they provide us with.

“Academies have more rigorous financial systems in place than maintained schools, and have a statutory requirement to produce independently audited annual accounts.

“The department and Education Funding Agency challenge academies if they believe funds are being spent inappropriately.”

To view the report, visit www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/dfe-accountability-report-publication/

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