Statutory Investigation Launched Into Peter McVerry Trust Over Financial Concerns
Overview of the Investigation
The Approved Housing Bodies Regulatory Authority (AHBRA), a statutory authority, has initiated an investigation into the Peter McVerry Trust, one of the largest providers of homeless services in the country. The investigation arises due to concerns over severe financial problems within the organization. The Trust, which provides accommodation to over 2,000 homeless individuals each night, informed the Department of Housing earlier this year about its cash flow problems. This notification led to the commissioning of an audit by an independent firm to review the financial and governance affairs of the charity.
The Role of AHBRA
The AHBRA has exercised its statutory powers to appoint inspectors to carry out an investigation into the Trust. This appointment does not indicate any wrongdoing but is necessary due to the issues identified in July. The independent auditor’s preliminary report, commissioned by one of the Trust’s largest funders, has revealed additional concerns about the charity’s finances such as debt warehousing and major cash flow problems impacting daily costs. A comprehensive report will be made available in the coming weeks.
The Trust’s Response
In response to the investigation, the Trust has confirmed that it has been in contact with the AHBRA since the initial announcement of its cash flow problems. The Trust perceives the appointment of inspectors as a crucial measure for transparency and accountability and has pledged to cooperate fully with the inspectors and the AHBRA throughout the investigation. Additionally, the Charities Regulator has requested documentation from the charity related to an ongoing inquiry by its compliance and enforcement unit.
Financial Overview of the Peter McVerry Trust
In 2021, the Peter McVerry Trust reported an income of 53 million, with 38 million coming from state funding. Despite the substantial income, the charity has been grappling with acute cash flow pressures. The charity’s founder, Fr Peter McVerry, serves as the secretary of its board but does not partake in daily operations. In June, the role of CEO was assumed by Francis Doherty following the departure of the long-serving chief executive.
The launch of this investigation underlines the importance of financial transparency and accountability within charities, especially those that rely on state funding. The final outcome of the investigation and its impact on the future operations of the Peter McVerry Trust will be keenly observed in the coming weeks.
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