Department for Education criticised over academy school finances

The Department for Education has failed to show that academy schools have spent public money in line with Treasury guidelines, the government’s official auditor said on Thursday. This is from the Guardian

The National Audit Office has signed off accounts from Michael Gove’s department, but also criticised the methods by which civil servants assessed the finances of more than 2,800 academies. As a result, the department’s financial statements contain a “material level of error and uncertainty”, it said.

It follows continuing criticisms of academies from auditors, MPs and unions for appearing to operate with little oversight from central government. On Monday, the Guardian disclosed that academy chains have paid millions of pounds into the private businesses of directors, trustees and their relatives.

Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, said: “The consolidation of academy accounts was always going to be a complex and challenging task. It has demonstrated, however, key and continuing risks to the department’s ability to exercise strategic financial management of the academy sector and to the sustainability of the department’s current approach.”

Between 2012 and 2013, the DfE was required to include academies in its group financial statements for the first time.

Auditors were not convinced that academies spent their funds in line with the Treasury’s rules on managing public money…

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