Tory councils warn of £600m black hole after demise of education bill

The Guardian is reporting that Conservative council leaders are warning they face a £600m black hole in budgets to improve struggling schools after the government last week pulled the plug on its education bill.

With council budgets already under severe pressure after years of austerity, some say they may need maintained schools to contribute from their own shrinking budgets, while others may be forced to cut support services they provide to local schools, leaving them vulnerable to decline.

Local authorities – including Conservative-run county councils in Kent, Hampshire and Buckinghamshire – say they have been left in limbo by the government’s axing of educational services grants worth £600m ahead of passing the bill that would have curtailed the role of local authorities in maintaining community schools in England.

But the demise, announced to parliament by education secretary Justine Greening last Thursday, of the education for all bill, means councils will still be legally required to run school improvement services next year and meet other costs, such as maternity cover for teachers, but without funding from central government.

Martin Tett, the Conservative leader of Buckinghamshire county council, condemned the government’s failure to coordinate its funding and support for the many state schools that have not become academies.

“What we now have is a situation where the grant is being removed but the responsibilities will remain, particularly the statutory responsibility with regard to school improvement. And councils at the moment – particularly upper-tier councils, like county councils – are very financially stretched,” Tett said.

More at: Tory councils warn of £600m black hole after demise of education bill

What do you think can be done to help councils with the funding taken away from the education bill? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie

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  1. Julie_Cordiner

    Not quite right – its my understanding that the consultation on the Schools and Early Years Finance regulations (expected later this month) the government will address this. It will set out the LA functions to be funded from the Retained Duties ESG and from any charge to LA maintained schools to replace lost General ESG.
    Timescale is not particularly helpful – we need to know what we can fund or charge for to prepare Schools Forum papers for December meetings.

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