A CHARITY has been told to clean up its act following a Barnsley Council-led investigation into its finances - after complaints were received about taxpayers’ cash allegedly being unaccounted for.
Dunford Parish Community Association - now known as Dunford Residents’ Association - was set up by Dunford Parish Council in 1993 to enable them to access external funding not available to public bodies.
However complaints were sent to Barnsley Council’s monitoring officer, Sukdave Ghuman, last year mainly relating to a bank account - containing about £3,000 - being closed and cash subsequently being unaccounted for.
The investigation report, obtained by the Chronicle, concluded allegations of the ‘misappropriation of funds’ were unfounded, but flaws in the charity’s reporting procedures relating to finances were noted.
It said: “One of the main allegations was that a bank account containing around £3,000 had been closed and the money unaccounted for.
“Several of the interviewees mentioned that the association had operated for many years with a current account for its day-to-day income and expenditure and had a reserve account - it was this reserve account that is unaccounted for.
“This practice is not mentioned in the governing document of the charity which only stipulates that the charity should have a current account.
“On investigation of the bank statements, there was not a significant number of transactions between 2020 and 2022, although a payment was received into the current account of £3,009.65 on February 2, 2020.
“It is clear that all the finances have been accounted for and the allegations of misappropriation of funds are unfounded.
“The closure of the reserve account and transfer of these funds into the current account is allowed for within the constitution of the charity,
however good practice would be to report this transfer to the committee and trustees of the charity.
“This did not happen, resulting in rumours of misappropriation and ultimately the complaint.
“One of my recurring concerns in this investigation is the routine lack of reporting, monitoring and controls on the finances of the association.”
A statement from Dunford Residents’ Association said the charity is now moving in the right direction.
It added: “At the latter end of 2022 an investigation was prompted by complaints received of the running of Dunford Parish Community Association and its committee.
“We would like to highlight the investigation focused of the running of the association on the years up to newly-formed Dunford Residents’ Association.
“Throughout the investigation we supported the process fully and worked alongside the investigation giving full transparency throughout.
“We received the report earlier this week and having read its findings we are proud to say that the recommendations set out have already reached our recent agendas and we have actioned many.
“The new and updated constitution will roll into action after our April meeting when the 2023/24 committee is formed.
“We also look forward to working with Dunford Parish Council to update our partnership agreement.
“We really hope the association is moving in the right direction and the coming months and years will be a breeze now it’s been run in such a way we no longer demonstrate aspects outlined within the report.
“Here’s hoping ‘poor governance structure and inadequate financial controls, as well as poor practice’ are a thing of the past.”