Council revamp after £2.2m loss

May 30, 2003

The National Council for Education and Training in Wales will be restructured amid an escalating row over "irregular expenditure" that cost taxpayers £2.2 million.

Welsh Assembly education minister Jane Davidson said the council, which has a £500 million budget for post-16 education and training, will be streamlined in the light of lessons learnt from an assembly audit report on flawed contracts that contravened Welsh and European procurement rules.

The council would have a smaller but more skilled staff, and it would focus only on core business until system checks were completed in the autumn, Ms Davidson said.

The audit committee's findings, published last month, put Ms Davidson under fire from opposition assembly members last week.

Tory education spokesman David Davies called the assembly's handling of the council's affairs "a shambles", and Plaid Cymru education spokeswoman Helen Mary Jones demanded a "proper investigation".

The report said a £4 million council payment to media company Avanti had breached accounting rules. The money was intended to provide young people with multimedia training at the "Pop Factory" project, a music venue that has attracted stars including Victoria Beckham. But the money was paid upfront, and there was little monitoring of how it was spent.

This, together with other weaknesses in organisational and financial arrangements in the council's first 12 months, had resulted in the loss of £2.2 million.

Ms Davidson told the assembly that she accepted that there were important lessons to be learnt from the report.

She welcomed the auditor-general's conclusion that the council's procurement breaches were "acts of omission rather than commission" and that fraud was not suspected.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Boats docked in Port Hercule, Monaco

Richard Murphy praises a bold effort to halt tax-dodging by the 1 per cent

It’s a question with no easy answer, finds James Derounian

  • James Fryer illustration (19 November 2015)

With no time for proper peer review and with grade inflation inevitable, one academic felt compelled to resign

  • Worker checks thin-film silicon solar module, Truebbach

Asia doubles representation while European countries face varied performance

  • Lisa Mckenzie, Class War Party candidate, Chingford

Anarchist academic reflects on what her recent brush with the law says about threats to academic freedom