Academy trusts run up debts of almost £25m, BBC suggests

113 academy trusts operating in England have run up debts of almost £25 million, according to figures obtained by the BBC.

The extent of the deficits was revealed by BBC 5 Live Investigates and Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, has said that the numbers raise ‘serious concerns about the accountability’ of academy trusts, which currently run more than half of England’s secondary schools.

The Lilac Sky Schools Trust (LSST), which runs nine primary schools in Kent and East Sussex, was found to have a deficit of £665,972, after paying £800,000 to outside companies set up by co-founders Trevor Averre Beeson and his wife Jane Fielding in the 2013-14.

The trust has since been ordered by the Education Funding Agency to cease payments to these companies.

Perry Beeches, which runs five schools in Birmingham, was also found to have a deficit of £2.1m in the last financial year, with former chief executive Liam Nolan facing criticism for receiving £80,000 a year as a consultant to the trust in addition to his £120,000 salary as head teacher.

Hillier said that some trusts were showing a ‘complete disregard for the use of public money’.

She added: "This is not their money they are spending, it's our money. There are rules about how this is done for a good reason.

"This is not about whether the academy system is good or bad for education, it's about how taxpayers' money is spent.

"These figures raise serious concerns about the transparency and accountability of the system."

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