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Written Statement - Coleg Harlech WEA North Financial Position

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Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

Coleg Harlech WEA North notified my officials before Christmas of financial difficulties that have led to an overall financial position that is £900,000 worse than anticipated. Discussions were held to identify remedial action and a business recovery plan. I wrote to the Chair of Governors of Coleg Harlech on 11th 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.

My officials have been working closely with the College on a recovery process and its Governing Body finally agreed a recovery plan on 18 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.

Whilst the issue is being investigated 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. I will keep Members appraised of the situation as events unfold.