Multi-academy Trusts - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:14 pm on 10th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Agnew of Oulton Lord Agnew of Oulton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education 3:14 pm, 10th July 2019

The noble Lord is right in saying that we appeared together several years ago at an Education Select Committee. A great deal of work has been done since then. Under my tenure, we have rewritten the academies handbook twice—the latest version was released in the past few weeks and includes the change relating to related-party transactions that I mentioned. We updated the academies account direction —the directions for auditors—in March. We have asked for additional scrutiny of new academy trusts to ensure that they have the correct governance structure. We have ensured that there is a scheme of financial delegation that maintains robust controls, that management accounts are shared with the board of trustees and issued regularly and that there is board oversight of capital expenditure and funding to ensure that it is used appropriately for capital purposes. I have written to all auditors in the sector on three occasions during my tenure to stress the importance of many of these issues. The conversation that the noble Lord and I had with the Select Committee a couple of years ago was absolutely right, but a huge amount has been done since then.