Opinion Former Article

Public money being abused and squandered

The Coalition Government’s obsession with increased school autonomy and deregulation is leading to public money being abused and squandered, the Annual Conference of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, will hear today.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“One of the first acts of this Coalition Government was to abolish financial management standards under which schools were required to operate.

“This, together with the diminution of the oversight by local authorities, opaque procedures and lack of scrutiny of school finances is enabling poor, and in some cases, corrupt practices to flourish.

“Several disturbing cases have recently come to light where public money evidently has been misused.

“But while corrupt practices are clearly not widespread, there can be no doubt that on a daily basis public money is being squandered as individual schools pay a premium price for services from private companies, consultants and legal firms that previously they could have accessed much more cheaply through the economies of scale, by schools working together or through local authorities.

“How can 23,000 schools, operating as individual spending units, be considered to be an efficient way of spending public money?

“Where schools do work together in academy chains, money is often creamed off by the chain sponsor to cover ‘administration’. This can average 6% of each individual school’s budget.

“Yet local authorities were accused by the Coalition of retaining money for administration which should have been spent on pupils. Presumably this Coalition has no problem with private companies raking in public money; only democratically accountable public bodies are considered to be a problem.

“There is a scandalous lack of democratic oversight and public scrutiny and this should be addressed urgently.”

 



NASUWT Press Office contacts:
Ben Padley 07785 463 119
Lena Davies 07867 392 746
Amanda Williamson 07741 246 202


Notes to editors
The NASUWT’s Annual Conference is being held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham from 18-21 April.

The full text of the motion is below:

ABUSE OF PUBLIC MONEY
Brian Cookson to move,
Derek O’Dowd to second:
Conference notes evidence from research and other reports demonstrating the abuse of public money arising from the Coalition Government’s Academies and Free Schools programme and as a result of the reckless drive for public service deregulation.
Conference is deeply concerned that, when schools are facing real-term cuts in their budgets, unscrupulous education companies, suppliers, consultants and rogue headteachers and governors are exploiting the Coalition Government’s current financial regulations to maximise their profiteering activities and to line their own pockets.
Conference is further concerned by the spread of abusive practices which are tantamount to corruption.
Conference asserts that such practices are antithetical to the public service ethos and are robbing children and young people of precious financial resources and damaging their right to quality education.
Conference calls upon government to end these abusive and corrupt practices and ensure greater transparency and accountability over the use of public money.
(Executive, Birmingham)

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