Wakefield City Academies Trust 'financially solvent' as it ceases to run schools

Wakefield City Academies Trust has published its accounts.
Wakefield City Academies Trust has published its accounts.

A chain of academies which is handing control of all its schools to new providers has said it is "financially solvent" after publishing its latest accounts.

Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) faced criticism over financial management after a shock announcement last September that it would cease running 21 Yorkshire schools.

Claims have since been made that the organisation transferred millions of pounds from some of the individual academies to its own accounts.

The trust and Department for Education have been working to find new organisations to run the schools.

Accounts published today show that WCAT expects to return a surplus when it is wound up.

The trust said in a statement: "Wakefield City Academies Trust, in the process of transferring its 21 schools to new sponsors, will continue to be financially solvent until the point it is wound-up, its annual accounts reveal.

"The trustees report that accompanies the audited accounts for the year ending August 31, 2017, also highlights the total restricted and unrestricted reserves have stayed relatively constant."

It added: "Additionally, the trust has submitted a surplus budget to the Education and Skills Funding Agency for the 2017-18 financial year."

The accounts show that WCAT made purchases of £83,338 during the last financial year from Hi-Tec Group Ltd, a company owned by its former chief executive Mike Ramsay.

Some £63,721 of the purchases were for software development. The accounts said it followed a competitive tender process that Mr Ramsay was not involved in.

A further £19,617 was spent on IT support and equipment under a contract which ceased on January 1 last year.

WCAT had previously defended making payments to companies linked to Mr Ramsay, who left the organisation last May.

The Department for Education said in a statement: "Like all academy trusts, WCAT is subject to a rigorous system of accountability, including an annual independent audit of its accounts, and the latest statements show it has followed all appropriate processes.”