Councils claim £1 billion black hole in funding for school places

The Press Association (via the Mail) is reporting LGA claims that councils have been forced to cut back on school repairs, building projects and to borrow money to plug a £1 billion black hole in funding for school places…

More than three quarters of authorities in England say they have not received enough money from the Government to create the extra school places needed in their area in a five-year period to 2016/17, according to a poll by the Local Government Association (LGA)…

Local councils were asked by the LGA if money provided by the Department for Education (DfE) had fully met the cost of providing school places between 2011/12 and 2016/17.

Of those that responded – around 79 councils – a total of 77% said the funding had not been enough.

The total amount of money these councils said they were short by came to £1.06 billion, which means the overall shortfall across England is likely to be higher, the LGA said.

More than a third (38%) of the councils who said they did not receive enough funding said they had borrowed money, two thirds (67%) used money from developers, over a fifth (22%) took funds from other building programmes and half (50%) used cash from other school projects, such as school building maintenance, the LGA said.

It claimed that councils were going to “extraordinary lengths” to ensure every child has a school place, including additional extra classes, using temporary buildings and even putting a playground on a roof.

An extra 90,000 primary places were created last year, the LGA said, adding that its analysis had shown that a further 130,000 will be needed by 2017/18, along with 80,716 new secondary places by 2019/2020.

Councillor David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA’s children and young people’s board, said: ” This research lays bare the financial impact on councils of providing school places, which stands at more than £1 billion over a five-year period.

“The scale of this black hole is such that the cost of the creation of new school places cannot be met by council taxpayers. The underfunding of free school meals pales in comparison to this but both show that Government’s rhetoric must be matched by its chequebook rather than leaving local authorities to pick up the tab.

“The lack of school places is no longer confined to primary schools but is spreading to secondary schools, and across the country we estimate more than 200,000 places will be needed…”

…The DfE has previously said that it is making a round £5 billion of funding available to councils to create new school places, with around 212,000 new primary places created between May 2010 and May last year.

More at: Cash diverted to fund school places

 

Your thoughts on these figures from the LDA and the apparent scale of the problem? Are you aware of other projects being cut or scaled back in order to cope with expansion required to offer more places? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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