Regulator launches statutory inquiry into regeneration charity where £90k went missing

NSA Afan, based in Port Talbot, south Wales, reported the theft to the Charity Commission in May last year

The Charity Commission has launched a statutory inquiry into a Welsh community regeneration charity after £90,000 of the charity’s funds went missing following a theft.

NSA Afan, based in Port Talbot, south Wales, contacted the regulator in May 2016 to report a theft at the charity, “with £90,000 of the charity’s funds unaccounted for”, according to the commission.

The charity, which provides community learning and employability schemes in Neath and Port Talbot, had an income of £1.5m and spending of £1.6m in the year to 31 March 2016.

After the serious incident report was submitted, the commission opened a monitoring case to oversee the charity’s response.

In a statement published today, the commission said the monitoring case had prompted “serious concerns about the charity’s governance and internal controls and the apparent failure of the trustees to remedy these issues, placing the charity’s property and its operations at risk”.

Because of these concerns, the commission opened a statutory inquiry in February this year.

The inquiry will examine the charity’s financial controls, its management and application of charitable funds and assets, its governance and whether the charity’s decision-making processes are adequate, especially for handling conflicts of interest.

It will also examine whether the trustees have acted prudently and exercised reasonable care in respect of the day-to-day running of the charity, according to the commission.

In January, the Welsh government suspended funding to the charity amid allegations of the misuse of public funds. 

NSA Afan was due to receive £526,800 in grant funding to deliver the Welsh government’s Communities First programme in Sandfields and Aberavon up to 31 March, but was told on 12 December the funding had been suspended with effect from 1 December, leaving the charity concerned about its future viability.

Ian Isaac, chief executive of NSA Afan, told Third Sector that 12 members of its staff had now been transferred to the local authority because the charity was unable to continue running some of its services without the funding. He said it had been able to continue providing other services out of its own income.

Today the commission said it had been liaising closely with the Welsh government, which it said also had concerns about the governance of the charity.

Isaac described the commission’s concerns about the charity’s governance as “sweeping allegations without evidence”, but said the charity was cooperating fully with the inquiry.

In January, South Wales Police said a 35-year-old woman from the Port Talbot area was arrested on suspicion of theft on 11 August 2016 after a complaint was made by NSA Afan, and had been bailed while the police investigation continued.

Today a police spokesman said: “South Wales Police is continuing to investigate and it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

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Prince’s Trust launches new digital platform to widen online access

Prince’s Trust Online has been launched to support a million more young people over the next ten years

The Prince’s Trust has launched a new online platform to help vulnerable young people access its services.

The charity said the portal would allow young people to benefit from its programmes even if they were unable to attend in person because of where they lived or the nature of their personal circumstances: those living in rural areas, for example, making travel to a Prince’s Trust delivery centre difficult, or those whose lifestyles made it hard to access programmes, such as single parents and young carers. The charity said it would also enable them to complete their programmes at a pace and time that would fit in with their other commitments. A group of such people were involved in road-testing the platform.

Prince’s Trust Online is a key part of the charity’s aim of supporting a million more young people over the next 10 years. The new platform, which is supported by founding patrons Nominet and NatWest and the content sponsor L’Oreal Paris, means the trust’s programmes can be accessed by smartphone, tablets and computers.

The new platform was unveiled at London Tech Week’s TechXLR8 this week. A digital version of the Prince’s Trust’s enterprise programme, designed to help young entrepreneurs develop their ideas into businesses, was also launched. Prince’s Trust Online mirrors the enterprise programme by providing and combining e-learning modules with an e-mentoring service.

A speaker at the event was Duane Jackson, who was supported by the trust to found a tech business after spending time in prison. He has since sold the business and become a member of the trust’s Enterprise Fellowship.

David Ivell, the trust’s chief information officer, said: “With the launch of Prince’s Trust Online we will be able to support more young people than ever and, perhaps most importantly, break down barriers that have previously prevented us reaching those who may have the most to gain from one of our programmes.”

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