Academy bosses ‘line their own pockets’ with public money, claims senior MP

The Times is reporting comments Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Commons’ Public Accounts Committee, suggesting bosses of academy chains are using hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money to line their own pockets rather than spend it on children’s education…

…She claimed one academy chain, Academies Enterprise Trust(AET), had paid more than £230,000 to its chief executive, Ian Comfort, on top of his salary, for project management work….

E-ACT, another troubled academy chain which will lose control of 10 of its schools, after concerns by Ofsted about the quality of provision, paid its former chief executive Sir Bruce Liddington £280,000 a year, Ms Hodge said.

She added that he had “claimed dubious expenses” of £17,000 in one year and £12,000 the following year for “two nights in a posh Birmingham hotel, chauffeur driven limousines and a lot of booze when Prince Phillip came to see them.”

“This you knew about, you knew about this,” she said to Chris Wormold, the Department for Education’s permanent secretary, and senior officers from the Education Funding Agency.

Ms Hodge added: “[There is a] lack of accountability and transparency. It seems to be that people are using taxpayers’ money meant for the education of children, to some extent, it looks like they are lining their own pockets rather than for the education of children. It doesn’t look good.”…

More at: Academy bosses ‘line their own pockets’ with public money, claims senior MP (subscription required)

Are academy chain bosses just easy targets for fat-cat allegations or do you feel something has gone wrong with the way funding is being used? Do you think the EFA is on top of the situation? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove There does seem to be some evidence of this in some chains – DfE bitten off more than it can chew regarding regulation

  2. PeterHutchinso5

    SchoolsImprove For those whose first reaction is to blame systems not people this really IS a system which lays itself open to abuse.

  3. TW

    No, nothing has gone wrong with the way funding is being used

    Academy bosses lining their own pockets is exactly the way the system is intended to operate.

  4. Janet2

    The Guardian discovered thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money went to companies linked to academy trustees or their families.  

    As well as E-Act, the EFA found “unusual” payments were made to AET trustees; the police investigation into misuse of public money at the Priory Federation in Lincolnshire is ongoing; £1m was claimed by the Barnfield Federation for non-existent students while their out-going director received money under a “Compromise Agreement” which, the EFA said, he might not have been entitled; Private Eye asked if the Sabres Educational Trust was nothing more than a “conduit” for the DfE to send money to the for-profit Swedish firm IES;

    One firm behind an approved academy sponsor said the charitable trust set up to run its academies was a “vehicle” by which shareholders could profit.  Read about it here:

    http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2013/08/how-many-academy-trusts-are-a-vehicle-for-investors-wishing-to-profit-from-running-englands-schools/

  5. Pearl Wheeler

    Ofsted have been told that “forensic accountants” would be needed to get to the bottom of some academy accounts. They have lacked either the will or skill to get to the bottom of this and there is no doubt that some academy accounts have been used for the benefit of senior management rather than the children.

  6. Pearl Wheeler

    So, where there has been wrong-doing, are they going to get away with it? Some culprits have ‘left’ only to take up senior positions in other academies.

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