Birmingham asylum group facing council and police probe

May 9 2010 by Jeanette Oldham, Sunday Mercury
Birmingham City Council has given £45,000 to the group and it has also received £50,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and various other grants from public bodies. Allegations include claims that ARC paid tens of thousands of pounds to UDF without the knowledge of ARC’s secretary and all members of its management.
The whistleblowers also allege ARC accounts show UDF was paid more than £25,000 in one year for “output delivery”, work they insist ARC already employed someone to perform. UDF recently appointed former Birmingham City Council deputy leader Andy Howell – son of the late former sports minister Dennis Howell – as a trustee.
Mr Howell, who says he has been paid by ARC for consultancy work, told the Sunday Mercury that some changes had recently been made to management structures of both organisations – and said he was sure neither had done anything wrong.
In a statement Birmingham City Council said: “We have recently received some allegations concerning ARC’s use of funding and the council’s Internal Audit team are at present investigating these. ‘‘The investigation will also look at all other groups connected to ARC, including Urban Development Foundation.
“As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment any further at this stage.’’ A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: “Concerns have been raised with the Charity Commission relating to Asylum & Refugee Care Ltd.
“However, ARC is not a registered charity and has not applied for charitable status. 
“We are therefore looking at the organisation to assess whether it should be registered with us as a charity. ‘‘If ARC is a charitable organisation, we will have jurisdiction to examine the concerns as well as those relating to the Urban Development Foundation.”
West Midlands Police also confirmed they were looking into the matter.
ARC refused to comment when contacted by the Sunday Mercury.

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