College finances under scrutiny

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New College Lanarkshire’s financial shortcomings have been criticised by the Auditor General for Scotland.

Caroline Gardner highlighted concerns about the college’s financial sustainability after it was faced with an underlying deficit of £560,000 in 2016/17.

She appeared before MSPs on the Public Audit Committee to explain her findings.

Ms Gardner said: “The college had to absorb a number of unexpected costs in 2014/15, which led to it setting a very tight budget for 2015/16.

“However, the college did not plan effectively for all known additional costs and was overly optimistic in its assumptions for generating income in 2015/16.

“While the college made some savings these were not enough and its financial difficulties continued in 2016/17.”

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) provided £1.9 million advance funding from the 2017/18 allocation and talks are ongoing to deliver a sustainable business model.

College principal Martin McGuire and the SFC have now been invited to appear before MSPs later this month.

A college statement said: “In 2015 the college was immersed in a challenging and complex merger as well as dealing with financial pressures.

“The college worked hard to improve its financial position and will continue to work closely with the SFC to deliver a sustainable business model for the future.”