NYCC admits MeToo! scheme was flawed

The county council has admitted that a scheme providing leisure activities for disadvantaged children which ended in controversy was flawed.

Me Too! ran in 2010/11 after North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) was allocated £1.57 million of government cash to provide eligible kids across the county, such as those receiving free school meals or being looked after, with access to a variety of leisure activities.

But an investigation was launched after the scheme had ended “following an issue arising from a potential irregularity in the reclaiming of some vouchers”.

The Gazette has obtained a copy of the investigation report which outlines where the administration of the scheme went wrong.

It states there was “an unusually high invoice from a provider” and that there were “inadequate” controls which did contribute to a budget overspend.

Among the other issues were, that schools were not told of their responsibilities and the risks arising from the management of the scheme because a letter was not sent out.

There was no clarity in the line management arrngements between the officers co-ordinating the Whitby cluster of schools taking part in the MeToo! project and the project at county level and at first there was no limit placed on the value of the vouchers.

The report says: “The controls in the scheme did not provide effective limitation of the nature and cost of provision by providers resulting in the submission of one very high claim.”

It goes on to say that there had been a payment to Esk Leisure for £113,822 but that the information had been in the public domain and was in line with government guidelines for transparency in relation to payments over £500.

A draft of recommendations has been laid down for similar schemes in future such as formal agreements and management terms, the designantion of an accountable body or officer and clear allocation of responsibilities.

A spokesperson for NYCC said: “The whole emphasis of the scheme was to open up opportunities for children to experience a variety of activities.

The county council acknowledges however that the administrative controls applied to the scheme should have been stronger and has taken steps to ensure improved financial and risk management of any similar scheme in the future.”