Probe after wrong stats for district reported

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A director of Falkirk Council is at the centre of a probe after getting his sums wrong.

Former maths teacher Robert Naylor, boss of children’s services, told councillors the number of 18-year-olds and under using Falkirk Foodbank had soared to over 22,000 last year.

In his report to the scrutiny committee he said: “Referrals to Falkirk Foodbank have increased year on year since their inception in 2011. In 2011-12 1861 young people aged 18 and under accessed the foodbank. This rose to 4572 in 2012-13 and a staggering 22,387 in 2013-14.”

He added: “We are operating in an environment where there are more in need and more in need longer.”

But is has now been revealed the figures are not right - locally the 2012/2013 number was 1203 and the January to August 2014 figure 1030.

An inquiry has been ordered by Councillor Craig Martin the leader of the administration into how the director got it wrong.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Mr Naylor’s office issued a statement in an attempt to clarify the situation and claimed the figures has been supplied by UK charity the Trussell Trust.

It said: “The information we received from the Trussell Trust was accidently mis-interpreted and the figures reported to members were for Scotland as a whole and not localised to reflect the Falkirk position.

“We will update these figures for members as soon as possible and apologise for the confusion that we have caused by this genuine error.”

The Trussell Trust, however, has no record of any inquiry from Mr Naylor’s office.

A spokeswoman said; “As far as we are aware there has been no direct contact with Falkirk Council. The figures nationally and locally are on our website for public consumption so perhaps they got them from there.

“We also don’t report ‘18 and under’ statistics, our figures are based on the number of 16 to 24-year-olds referred. Under 16s count as children.”

It has also been confirmed Falkirk Foodbank was not asked to supply the council with figures either.

The leader of the Labour-led administration has admitted he is “embarrassed” by events and promised a full and thorough investigation.

Councillor Martin said: “This is a very bad mistake that should not have been made.

“Inaccurate information should never be presented in a public forum, but we have to accept the figures in this case are not correct and should never have appeared in a report to elected members.

“I will be taking this up with the chief executive to establish the facts and be seeking assurances it does not happen again.

“We have to accept people do make mistakes and I am not criticising anyone, but we obviously have to look at the process of information gathering and how it ends up being submitted as part of a report to councillors.

“I’m embarrassed by these events, but the council will get answers as to why they happened.”

Scrutiny committee convener Councillor Steven Jackson said: “I would say it’s disappointing officers did not proof read the paper prior to discussion, but satisfied this was a genuine error.”

Mr Naylor was hired as director of children’s services in April. The former maths teacher at Bo’ness Academy quit his post as director of education and leisure services at Renfrewshire Council to take the job.

He has been instrumental is setting up a new department which brings education and parts of social work together.