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Academy Transformation Trust promises full pension payments to Westbourne Academy staff after 18-month admin error

PUBLISHED: 06:00 01 April 2017 | UPDATED: 07:26 01 April 2017

Westbourne Academy in Ipswich is one of the schools run by the Academy Transformation Trust. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Westbourne Academy in Ipswich is one of the schools run by the Academy Transformation Trust. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Sarah Lucy brown

An academy trust under fire for its finances has insisted staff at one of its schools in Ipswich will have pensions paid in full after staff reported no contributions had been made since August 2015.

No new sponsors are being sought for Westbourne Academy despite the finances of its sponsor the Academy Transformation Trust having come under scutiny. Picture: Sarah Lucy BrownNo new sponsors are being sought for Westbourne Academy despite the finances of its sponsor the Academy Transformation Trust having come under scutiny. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Academy Transformation Trust, which runs Westbourne Academy in Ipswich, Mildenhall College Academy and Great Heath Academy in Mildenhall, and Ravens Academy in Clacton, was found to have a number of financial failings in a government report published last week.

The Education Funding Agency’s investigation findings stated that trust reserves and the financial position of some of its schools had been deteriorating rapidly over three years, and that the change in sponsorship of three of its Norfolk schools could bankrupt the trust.

Now it has emerged that pension contributions for staff at Westbourne Academy have not appeared since August 2015.

However, the trust said all money would be paid, with the issue arising from “an administrative error”.

A spokeswoman from the trust said: “An administrative error during the transfer of payroll of Westbourne Academy has caused some online pension records to appear to be incorrect.

“ATT is actively working with pension providers to resolve this issue.

“This issue does not affect all of our academies. Staff have been reassured that contributions have been made as required and online records are expected to reflect an accurate position when year-end returns are submitted.”

Latest financial statements published in August last year have revealed a £36million pension pot deficit for 2016 – more than double the £16m black hole on its balance sheet for 2015.

The trust spokeswoman added: “It is important to stress that there are no issues with pension funds.

“Pensions are guaranteed, including arrangements between ATT and pension providers to meet any deficit liabilities.

“This issue is not unique to ATT and is something which all employers make a provision for.”

The trust earlier this week confirmed none of its schools were at risk of bankruptcy.

A spokesman from the Department for Education said it was an internal matter for the trust, and had not been a part of its prior investigation into the trust’s finances.

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