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Poor record-keeping and unofficial accounts found following robust auditing by town hall bosses

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Council chiefs have uncovered a host of financial concerns among the borough’s schools as part of robust auditing following alleged fraud at one of them.

Brent Council has also warned that an increase of schools working independently from local authorities makes it harder to account for the expenditure of public finances.

The fears came out of audit done following allegations of a £2.7million fraud at Copland School in Cecil Avenue, Wembley.

Six people are due in court in October to face charges linked to the case.

It has been reported that some of the borough’s primary schools are breaking rules by paying headteachers an average of £10,000 a year more than they should.

Poor record-keeping, the transfer of public funds to unofficial accounts and failure to tender for purchases worth more than £150,000 were also uncovered.

A council spokesman said: “Brent Council has been proactive and robust in addressing issues linked to schools’ financial governance.

“In July this year the children and young people’s overview and scrutiny committee discussed a report which set out the findings of an internal review of Brent schools’ financial governance and, in particular, into senior leadership pay and leasing at schools as areas of concern.

“Although budgets are delegated to headteachers to manage, for maintained schools it is ultimately the local authority that is accountable for schools’ finances and we will work with headteachers and senior school staff to ensure that they have sufficient financial training and support.

“However, we remain deeply concerned that as schools become more independent from local authorities, it becomes ever harder both to support them and to ensure that public money is protected and used to obtain value for money. This is a role that central government themselves will increasingly need to play.”

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