Report called for Welsh Government to stop funding Awema in 2005

Kirsty Williams of the Welsh Liberal Democrats says the charity has since received millions of public money

Kirsty Williams
Kirsty Williams

A report from 2005 recommended that the Welsh government should stop funding the troubled anti-discrimination charity the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association, but it has since provided it with £8.5m of public money, according to the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

The charity has been the focus of an investigation by the Welsh Government due to be published today. The investigation follows claims in a recent report that Naz Malik, the charity’s chief executive, had paid off more than £9,000 of personal credit card debt using the charity’s money and gave his daughter a job without any internal or external competition.

A statement yesterday from the Welsh Liberal Democrats says the 2005 report was commissioned in 2003 by the then Labour social justice minister following claims of financial irregularities at Awema.

The Liberal Democrats said the report recommended 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". They said that, despite this, "the Welsh Labour government continued to fund the charity to the tune of £8.5m".

Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said the older report showed the Welsh government had known about problems at Awema back in 2005. "Awema has been in receipt of millions of taxpayers’ pounds since this report was given to the Welsh Labour government," she said. "In tough financial times, the public expects the Welsh government to ensure that their taxes are spent wisely. This is simply not good enough."

A spokeswoman for the Welsh government said: "Our priority is to handle the current issues with funding of Awema. However, and as we have already announced, the permanent secretary is currently reviewing the historical funding of the organisation. It would be inappropriate to comment until that work has been completed."

Malik said Awema had not yet seen the 2005 report so could not comment on it.

A statement added to Awema’s website yesterday by its chair Rita Austin says the charity is "as far removed from the Welsh government as it is possible to be without being private citizens going about their daily lives.

"Awema comes more and more under attack because we have the temerity to speak out," she says. "We know what needs to be put right at Awema and will put it right. And we will not be cowed while we go about our work."

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