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Welsh Labour Government advised not to continue Awema funding in review – Kirsty Williams

February 8, 2012 9:56 AM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have obtained a copy of the 2003 commissioned review into the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association.

The report, published in 2005, commissioned by the then Labour Social Justice Minister following claims of financial irregularities, states in its recommendations that "no further funding is provided to Awema for new projects until AWEMA is able to verify that it has taken a systematic approach to project and performance management"

Further recommendations state:

"the main recommendations for Awema relate to project management, performance monitoring and financial management controls."

As of 2003, AWEMA had received £325,000 in tax payers' money to engage with BME communities. Even after the independent review recommended that no further funding be given to Awema, the Welsh Labour Government continued to fund the charity to the tune of £8.5 million.

Carwyn Jones, First Minister, today in the Assembly Chamber said that his government had nothing to hide over Awema. The First Minister also said it was "not clear" whether the 2003 report had been published.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats said:

"Carwyn Jones told me today that his government had "nothing to hide" from the people of Wales over the funding of Awema. The report we obtained today clearly states that the Welsh Labour Government knew that there were problems with Awema, its funding and financial management back in 2005.

"The Welsh Labour Government was advised by an independent review not to continue to fund this organisation. Why did they not heed this advice? Awema have been in receipt of millions of tax-payers' pounds since this report was given to the Welsh Labour Government. In tough financial times, the public expect the Welsh Government to ensure that their taxes are spent wisely. This is simply not good enough.

"I am also very surprised by the Welsh Labour Government's foolishness in not applying rigorous scrutiny and transparency when dealing with Awema given that Labour is heavily involved with the charity. Accusations have been levelled at the Welsh Labour Government for trying 'to protect its own', I fear that the disclosure of this report does nothing to quell those suggestions."