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RESPONSE TO SCHOOLS FUNDING DEBATE

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The Local Government Association today intervened in the debate over local ...
The Local Government Association today intervened in the debate over local

councils' role in distributing funding for schools.

LGA chairman, Sir Jeremy Beecham said,

'In his speech to the NASUWT conference today, Charles Clarke acknowledged

that the figures for the speculated funding shortfall need to be 'checked

and rechecked'.

What we do know, however, is that this year local councils are spending £100

million more than the government has allocated on their local schools, so

claims that in general councils are underfunding and holding back money

provided by central government are unfounded. Indeed 25 per cent of the

money spent on schools is raised locally, by council tax. Councils are

demonstrating their commitment to education by increasing council tax in

many areas to fund additional support for schools.

A major change in the funding system introduced this year has caused

considerable turbulence both in schools and local education authorities.

It is vital that councils maintain their strategic role in local education

provision. It is councils, working locally with schools, who can assess and

provide for the different needs of, for example, an isolated rural school

and an inner city school with many pupils facing social deprivation.

Whitehall cannot possibly understand the individual needs of every school in

the country.

Also, it has not been widely reported that there are areas in England and

Wales where some schools are reporting budget shortfalls, while other

schools hold balances in reserve. These are reserves that the LEA does not

control, and amount to £1.2bn.

Over the past ten years local councils have, in total, spent £4.3bn above

the government's own provision on education. Perhaps it's time to recognise

the fact that we need to see more money in education system.

The LGA will be looking at the government's figures, we will be looking at

what local cou ncils are doing and we will also look at the local formula,

which are currently driven too much by pupil numbers rather than pupil

need.'

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