Auditors look at £900,000 gap

The Education Minister says Welsh Government auditors will examine Coleg Harlech's financial systems after the governors found they were £900,000 worse off than they thought. The mature students' college has agreed a recovery plan after after Leighton Andrews threatened to cut off all funding.

Coleg Harlech WEA North notified my officials before Christmas of financial difficulties that have led to an overall financial position £900,000 worse than anticipated. I wrote to the Chair of Governors of Coleg Harlech on 11 January warning him that if I remain dissatisfied with the action taken to address the financial issues at the Institution or the financial and governance arrangements in place to safeguard public funding, I would consider suspending all further Welsh Government funding to the Institution, with effect from 1 April 2013.

Its governing body finally agreed a recovery plan on18 January. That plan is now in the process of being analysed by my officials, to test its deliverability. The plan will also be evaluated by a firm of professional accountants. The proposed merger with the WEA South will still be progressed but its success will of course be influenced by the outcomes of the financial investigations. I have asked the Welsh Government Internal Audit service to examine Coleg Harlech’s systems.

During this period of uncertainty learners are our main priority and we have ensured that provision is maintained. My officials will continue to work with the College to ensure that learners are unaffected. Our focus throughout has been on safeguarding provision for Coleg Harlech WEA North learners.

– Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM

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