Revealed: Welcome to Yorkshire owes £2m debt to 67 creditors – including a public sector pension fund

A ‘Statement of Affairs’ document published on Companies House revealed that debts of £2.1m to 67 different creditors include £1.3m to North Yorkshire County Council in relation to the pension fund of North Yorkshire which he administers. The company had just over £1million in estimated assets at the time of its collapse.

North Yorkshire Council leader Carl Les has served on the board of Welcome to Yorkshire and is co-chairman of the Yorkshire Leaders’ Board which decided to withdraw funding from WtY in early March, leading the agency to enter in administration.

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Council leaders’ decision to withdraw public funding in favor of establishing a new destination marketing organization for the region came after years of reputational and financial problems for the agency.

Welcome to Yorkshire goes through an administrative process

The pension fund has around £5billion in assets and its treasurer, Gary Fielding, said today the money of everyone who has contributed to the fund is safe. The fund is a statutory scheme for local government employees, but also includes a number of other public sector, education and voluntary sector employees as members.

Administrators said today that creditors will ‘get something in due course’ following the recent sale of company assets such as its brand name, Yorkshire.com website and social media accounts to e-commerce agency Silicon Dales for an undisclosed amount. But the precise amount that will be returned remains to be confirmed.

The balance sheet for Welcome to Yorkshire, the private sector successor to the Yorkshire Tourist Board, said the agency had run a continuing deficit in the pension scheme.

It was recorded by the Pension Fund as standing at £1.394 million in August 2021, but this had been disputed by WtY. However, a formal response to the challenge had not been received by the time the company entered administration. This means the administrators have listed the debt, less payments made since August 2021, at £1.352 million.

Mr Fielding said: “Unfortunately, when companies go into administration, all parties have to wait for the outcome of the creditor’s settlement before they have the full picture. Whilst any financial impact is not something we would be happy with, it is really important to reassure anyone who has contributed to the North Yorkshire Pension Fund that their money is safe and they will all receive what is due to them.

“The pension fund’s assets stand at around £5 billion and the latest valuation has confirmed that it is in an extremely strong financial position, so contributors can be confident that it is strong now and in the future.

“We are in discussions with the administrators who continue to ensure that we can recover as much money as possible. The implications relating to the pensions situation with Welcome to Yorkshire were known to the Yorkshire Leaders’ Board, as were the consequences in relation to the financial decisions that were made.

The debt figures include an unpaid £296,000 tax bill to HM Revenue and Customs; £2,356 due in business rates to Leeds City Council; £2,883 owed to Scarborough Borough Council and a debt of £2,823 to City of York Council.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said: “We have not received any confirmation of when payment will be made and as this is a live administration it is the responsibility of the administrators to allocate funds in accordance with relevant legislation and the status of each individual debt, eg preferential/non-preferential Professional rates are non-preferential debt.

A spokesperson for Scarborough Council said: ‘The money is commission for joint Welcome to Yorkshire and Discover Yorkshire Coast memberships which we have previously sold to local businesses.

“We have received correspondence from the directors inviting us to return a completed Proof of Debt form and to vote on the directors’ resolutions. We will therefore file a claim for the outstanding amount.”

A York City Council spokesman said: “CYC is a very minor creditor to Welcome to Yorkshire – around 0.1% in value of their total debts at closing. We have issued them invoices and reminders for money that is due in relation to storing items at Yorkcraft, but have not yet heard from the admins regarding the likelihood of receiving payment.

Among the private companies owing money is Swindon-based property consultancy Workman LLP, which owes £188,000. The company did not respond to request for comment.

Energy company EON owes £1,588, Grantley Hall Hotel to Ripon £1,500 and Vodafone £434.

Peer denounces financial “incompetence”

His Liberal Democrat counterpart Paul Scriven, a long-time critic of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: ‘The spotlight of truth is finally beginning to shine on the incompetence in the approach taken by senior council leaders and elected mayors for a number of years with taxpayers. hard earned money. For a public sector pension fund not to receive the £1.3m owed to it is a disgrace.

Lord Scriven said the situation is particularly damning given that Yorkshire council leaders agreed to a bailout of over £1million from Welcome to Yorkshire in 2020, while North Yorkshire Council also provided a loan emergency £500,000 to WtY in 2019 when the organization nearly left. out of business.

“So much money has been spent saving a bankrupt business and they have lost focus on tourism,” he said.

Lord Scriven said those in the public sector involved in decision-making about Welcome to Yorkshire should not be directly involved in any future destination marketing organization for the region.

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