02/05/2003

LEAs hold £590m in funds says Clarke

Education Secretary Charles Clarke has published figures that show Local Education Authorities in England have £590 million in funding that has yet to be allocated to schools.

The figures show that a fifth of LEAs have more than £5 million to allocate to schools budgets in some areas.

However, head teachers at a National Association of Schoolteachers conference in York dismissed the government figures as a "smokescreen" to hide a funding black hole in the education budget for the next two years. They hit out at a cash crisis that was threatening to lead to staff redundancies.

David Hart, General Secretary NAHT, said: “The Government funding statement is a smokescreen designed to divert attention from its responsibility for this year’s financial crisis.

"I am all in favour of local authorities giving the maximum money to schools and certainly there are some that have failed their schools, but the government’s attempt to pass the buck to LEAs, and to paint them as the villain of the piece, simply won’t wash".

He said the Government’s figures for this year were wildly inaccurate, under-estimating salary costs and a number of other revenue costs: "Far from there being a £250 million gap between resources provided for schools, and their massive cost increases, schools nationally are in deficit".

NAHT estimates that schools this year are in debt nationally to the tune of over £200 million.

The figures produced by the government's Department for Education and Skills analysis is based on preliminary figures Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have provided in their own budget statements.

Announcing the figures Mr Clarke said "The purpose of this exercise is not to apportion blame but to solve problems".

He said that the Department would be writing to all LEAs asking questions about their spending decisions and their impact on schools.

The Secretary of State will then consider what changes to make to budget arrangements for 2004-05.

He said: "We want to work with LEAs - and for LEAs to work with schools - to ensure that schools get the full benefit of the extra government investment in education."

The figures revealed large variations between the budget increases of individual schools in many LEAs - some schools were getting 10% more funding than other schools in the same authority.

Mr Clarke added that despite a significant increase in education funding it has been a difficult year with a number of major changes in the funding arrangements for LEAs and schools.

"However, the emerging pattern of spending decisions does raise big questions regarding the amount of money that has not yet reached schools.

"I want every LEA to look closely at their spending plans and their unallocated budgets in particular to ensure that the maximum possible amount is given to individual schools without delay."

(SP)

Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 January 2004
LEAs rubber-stamp Clarke's funding plans
Education Secretary Charles Clarke has welcomed the decision by most local education authorities to pass on the full funding increase to schools next year. Out of 148 local education authorities (LEAs) in England, 144 are proposing to pass on or 'passport' all or more than the basic increase in schools funding to their schools budgets.
29 January 2004
More schools gained 'specialist' status
More than half of all secondary schools have now gained specialist status, School Standards Minister David Miliband has announced.
24 April 2003
LEAs blamed for funding shortfall
The Education Secretary has accused local education authorities swallowing up vital funding earmarked for schools – and instead diverting the money to capital projects elsewhere in council areas.
01 March 2005
Gang culture 'widespread', schools report finds
Gang culture is 'perceived to be widespread' in England's schools, a report by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) has found. The education watchdog said that one in five of the secondary schools visited reported that problems with gangs were perceived although few schools had firm evidence of it.
18 June 2010
Free Schools To 'Harness Teachers' Passion'
The process for setting up and running so-called 'free schools' to allow teachers, charities and parents to develop facilities in response to parental demand is to be revised.