The news is an apparent turnaround from an announcement made in March when it was said that the Peter Jones Foundation was to be taking over these assets following the cancellation of Enterprise UK’s government funding as part of the budget cuts. This comes at a time when the prominent entrepreneur is facing a number of questions over his use of taxpayers’ money at the National Enterprise Academy, the charity he set up for young entrepreneurs.
We understand that BIS has launched an inquiry into claims of financial mismanagement at the National Enterprise Academy following revelations made by Tom Bewick in his public resignation as Chief Executive of the NEA.
In a statement after a recent Enterprise UK trustees’ meeting, British Chambers of Commerce director general David Frost said: ‘It was agreed that unless the terms and conditions of the due diligence process were agreed by the Peter Jones Foundation by the end of the month, and the exercise successfully concluded by mid-July, Enterprise UK will seek expressions of interest from other charitable organisations engaged in enterprise promotion.’
We understand that BIS has launched a new inquiry into Mr Bewick’s allegations, after initially insisting that an investigation by the Skills Funding Agency had found no evidence to substantiate his claims. We also understand that Bewick, who was not asked to give evidence to the initial inquiry, will now be contacted by Cable’s officials.
Much of Bewick’s allegations in his public resignation letter, which he copied to Vince Cable and a national newspaper, surround the financial management of the organisation.
They question the amount of charitable and government funding paid out by the NEA to other companies owned and controlled by Jones with Bewick claiming that over £900,000 was paid over the past three years, including a fifty per cent contribution towards the head office building of the entire corporate group.
They also include payments to Jones telecoms giant Phones International, his television production company PJ TV, along with his web media agency PJ Media and phone handset distributor Data Select which supplied the NEA with hardware, marketing services and IT support.
A spokesman for Jones, refuted these allegations saying: “PJ Media, PJ TV, Phones International and Data Select had provided services to the NEA on favourable terms during its start-up period.”
He added: ‘The remaining companies [in his portfolio] have donated their time free of charge and without charging for supplies and/or overheads in support of the NEA.”
The NEA is now being run by the father of Jones’s partner Tara Capp. Clive Capp, who it is said has more than 40 years’ experience in business, specifically in the areas of technology, human resources and recruitment, has already overseen a new partnership following the end of its relationship with the country’s biggest further education college.
The Manchester College said last week that it would no longer be taking students from the NEA. However the NEA has said that it has moved its North-West England base from Manchester to The Oldham College and will be offering courses leading to diplomas in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship from September.
On the switch Jones said: ‘Oldham College will provide our students with the resources they need to realise their entrepreneurial ambitions.’
It would have appeared that both of the Enterprise UK assets would have been a perfect fit for The Peter Jones Foundation given its involvement in the NEA, but with both Peter Jones and Tom Bewick resigning from the Enterprise UK board on July 4th, and whilst it is not suggested that Bewick’s allegations about NEA finances are to blame for the collapse of the deal it would appear to be irretrievable.
The Tenner campaign, now in its fourth year is an annual competition across the UK where children across the UK are loaned a ten pond note and challenged to make money from it. Once the challenge is over participants are asked to return the original loan and either keep or donate the profit they have made. Last year 28,000 children took part and the most that was made from £10 was an impressive £920.
Global Entrepreneurship Week is billed at the world’s largest entrepreneurship movements and involves 40,000 events across 104 countries to promote small business.
Any interested charity has until tomorrow (15th July) to register an expression of interest with a view for taking over the two programmes, which will be transferred with operating capital in the region of £760,000. There is also a ‘Tenner Bank’ of £90,000 provided by Peter Jones, Big Lottery Fund and Michael and Xochi Birch, founders of social networking site Bebo.