Stevenage school owed £40,000 after collapse of lettings agency

barnwell school stevenage

Barnwell School in Stevenage is still owed more than £40,000 by School Lettings Solutions - Credit: Google Maps

A school in Stevenage is still owed tens of thousands of pounds by a lettings management company that went into administration.

Barnwell School, in Shephall, say they are owed more than £40,000 by School Lettings Solutions - a leasing company based in Manchester that say the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close.

Barnwell entered a contract with SLS in June 2019, and senior staff at the school says that invoices for payments date back as far as October 2019, with £40,931 owed to Barnwell in total.

Using SLS as a management service for its marketing of amenities and booking of venues ensured Barnwell was able to maintain and develop its own facilities, as well as provide additional resources to its pupils.

An invoice for £28,855 was raised last February but despite repeated requests, no payment was received. The school was eventually informed that SLS was "experiencing cash flow problems due to lockdown".

A further £12,363 was owed to the school relating to business conducted between February and March 2020.

By July, SLS had informed Barnwell that it had gone into administration.

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The collapse of the company ensures Barnwell's pupils and the local community are the ones who suffer as a result, according to headteacher Tony Fitzpatrick.

He said: "This loss of income has had a significant effect on the school and coupled with the ongoing loss of income due to the lockdown, it has meant that we have not been able to provide additional resources for our students as originally planned.

"We are aware that other creditors, i.e. hirers of the school were also impacted, as they had paid in advance for the hire of the school premises.

"Many of these are local community groups and small businesses, subsequently the school has been working with these groups so that they can continue to use the school's facilities."

SLS have been contacted to provide a statement.

According to an investigation by The Times, state schools across the country are facing losses in the millions of pounds due to SLS going bust.

SLS managed bookings at approximately 300 schools in England, and reported incomes in excess of £13 million two years ago.

The Times further reports that: "schools are expected to be paid back some of the money, although proposals suggest this could be at a rate of between 3.3 and 8.8 per cent of what each is owed."

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