Tighter rules for education grants system planned
Cash from the Education budget will be awarded more carefully to educational groups to stamp out abuse of Government’s grants system, the Ministry has announced.
Nearly $1 million will be allocated via a new fee for service model, following complaints grants were previously handed out without any proof services were being rendered.
Some groups will have their funding cut to zero if it’s shown they are not in fact providing services to public school students, according to Permanent Secretary Warren Jones.
But the Ministry insists it will match last year’s $904,000 spending on grants to external bodies, even though the 2012/13 Budget book sets aside $0 for that line item.
Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons yesterday accused Government of a lack of transparency by refusing to give details on how the cash will be distributed, leaving groups in the dark until Minister Dame Jennifer Smith makes an announcement during the Budget debate.
Last year, grants handed out by Education included more than $200,000 to Bermuda Sloop Foundation, nearly $500,000 to Bermuda Broadcasting Company and $104,000 to the Centre for Talented Youth.
Asked why the figure for grants to external bodies had dropped from $904,000 to $0, Mr Jones said: “While the Budget Book shows $0 as the amount going to grants, this is not wholly the case.
“The majority of our grant recipients will be switched to a fee for service model as they are providing direct services to our students. These will be paid as local services as opposed to grants. Other entities will receive funding of the same amount they did last year.
“They will be granted out of programme cost centres. The Minister will be set out these in detail during the Budget debate.
“The entities will receive funding, either through grant or fee for service. The $904,000 was not removed from the Budget, just from that line.”
Asked if he could confirm the external groups would not have their cash cut in 2012/13, Mr Jones replied: “No we cannot because while the amount is there, not every group will receive the same amount.
“If they are not providing a service to public school students, or if they are receiving funds from another Government Ministry/Department, they may receive less or none from us.”
He stressed the $904,000 total would not be reduced, no matter how the cash is distributed.
Reacting yesterday, Dr Gibbons said: “What are they trying to hide? Why isn’t there transparency here? Why can’t we have a clear sense in the Budget book of where this money is being spent and how much is being allocated to various groups and charities?
“I’m sure it makes life difficult for these organisations as well. They are already struggling for funds, and now they are having to wait and see whether they will get the same amount as last year.”
During last year’s Budget debate, Dame Jennifer pointed to a lack of financial discipline, waste and abuse of cash within the Ministry she had just taken over.
She said oversight of grant money was severely lacking, many unfunded programmes were being paid for unbudgeted services, and some programmes were funded without any documents or signed contracts.
At that time, the Minister said Mr Jones would oversee grant allocations to ensure appropriate oversight and accountability was in place.
Dr Gibbons said this year’s method represented a flip-flop on that plan, saying: “Now it seems they will be basically putting the money back into individual programmes where it’s difficult to see where it’s going.”
Grants awarded to groups from the Education Ministry’s Budget in 2012/13:
Total funds: $904,000
Adult Education School: $64,495
Bermuda Broadcasting Company: $40,890
Bermuda National Gallery: $16,355
Bermuda School of Music: $33,600
Bermuda Sloop Foundation: $200,500
Bermuda Zoological Society: $10,000
CARE Learning Centre: $64,495
Centre for Talented Youth: $104,000
Family Centre: $16,355
Global Arts: $33,120
Reading Clinic: $16,355
Sandys 360: $100,000
Student Leadership Development Programme: $10,000
Teen Services: Unspecified total
Tomorrow’s Voices: $30,000
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