Two freedom of information requests for details of advances and non-repayable grants to academy trusts in financial year 2018/19 have been refused. The same reason was given for both:
‘The Department does not hold the information requested, in the format you requested, because it operates a live accountancy system that does not capture trust level payments data. As such, the Department is not obliged to manually create this information for you.’
The DfE added that it’s ‘committed to collate and publish trust level data on 2018/19 non-repayable grants and long term recoverable funding (advances) as part of the 2018/19 Academy Sector Annual Report and Accounts, which is due for publication in the Summer.’
But the last Academy Sector Annual Report and Accounts (2017/18) academic year) doesn’t give ‘trust level data’ of such payments. Can we expect more detailed information in the next academy sector report? We shall see.
Goodwin Academy loan
The Thinking Schools Academy Trust (TSAT) agreed to repay £2.6m of a £5.7m debt accrued by SchoolsCompany Trust (SCT) when it gave up its academies. That’s what is says in SCT’s last accounts*.
But this doesn’t tally with what it says in TSAT’s accounts most recent accounts**. These say the ‘recoverable debt’ incurred when TSAT took over Goodwin Academy was £1m.
That leaves a £1.6m discrepancy between what TSAT says and what SCT says. TSAT intends to repay this by selling 'certain land' at the academy.
I asked the Department for Education for clarification. The response says:
‘I am afraid the substantive response will be delayed but I expect to be able to provide this by 5 March 2020. I am sorry we have not been able to meet our high standards for a timely response in this case.’
UPDATE 26 February 2020 07.59: FoI response re Goodwin Academy loan has now been sent (see here). The headline has been changed from 'Goodwin Academy loan discrepancy FoI delayed' to give more prominence to the refused FoIs re academy grants and loans. The order of info has also been changed for the same reason.
*Year ending 31 August 2018, available from Companies House
**Year ending 31 August 2019, available from Companies House