The academy chain Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) has come under scrutiny by the regulator, after it was revealed it paid almost £440,000 to two companies owned by its chief executive and his daughter, the Yorkshire Post reports.
WCAT, which finances 21 primary and secondary schools across Yorkshire, paid £316,489 to an IT company owned by Mike Ramsay, WCAT’s chief executive. A contract worth £123,012 was awarded to HDR services, the clerking firm owned by Ramsay’s daughter. The figures were revealed in the Trust’s annual accounts.
Clerking work has been brought in house, since the two year contract with HDR ended this summer.
This is not the first time, WCAT has conducted such financial tie-ups. The Trust’s 2013/14 accounts reveal that WCAT paid Hi-Tech Group Ltd, a Mike Ramsay-owned company, to deliver a management information system.
In the current and past activity, WCAT maintains the business was won by the firms through a competitive tender process.
Mr Ramsay is acting chief executive, following the resignation of previous chief, Alan Yellup, earlier this year.
In a statement, WCAT said:
“Internal vetting procedures established the contract represented best value in terms of quality of service compared to other ICT support services at other schools. It also represented a financial saving of £38,150 per annum to the Trust.
The other two contracts with HDR and Hi-Tech Group were put out to tender. Both were the subject of internal and external audits and scrutiny from an Education Funding Agency’s Governance and Financial Compliance focussed inspection.
Any inference that proper processes were not followed would be wholly inaccurate.”
Thirteen primary and secondary academies were included in the clerking contract. The next nearest tender, from four expressions of interest, was in excess of £100,000 more.
Kevin Courtney, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said that such payments were unacceptable:
“The NUT has long argued that related party transactions by academy trusts…should be ended. This would remove suspicion or concern about the manner in which such contracts are awarded.”