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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
2.5bn 'black hole' in school funds

By Gary Eason
BBC News Online at the NAHT conference in York

Head teachers say massive problems are looming in the funding of England's schools to dwarf the crisis that has led some to threaten staff redundancies this year.

They say there is a 2.5bn "black hole" in the budget over the next two years - which could also wreck the deal on reducing teachers' workloads.

classroom
Heads were led to believe they would get more, union says

And leaders of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) have dismissed as a "smokescreen" new government figures showing that education authorities have not yet allocated at least 590m this year.

The government is giving authorities 10 days to explain the breakdown of their finances, and says it wants to work with them to avoid "needless" redundancies.

It stresses it is not "naming and shaming" anyone but questions whether schools realise the amounts that might still be coming to them later in the year.

'Questions to be asked'

The sums vary - depending on the size of the authority for one thing - with two councils not having allocated more than 20m apiece.

Officials at the Department for Education accept there might be good reasons for the money being held back.

But they say that, now that the local elections are out of the way and the figures are public, schools can begin to question what is going on.

They believe that process will resolve the difficulties this year.

David Hart
NAHT leader David Hart said there were no "hidden pockets" of cash

The NAHT's general secretary, David Hart, said he didn't think there were any "hidden pockets" of money that were going to emerge from the government's questions to councils.

But, having done its own calculations, his union argues that the government miscalculated the impact of extra costs this year from such things as increases in teachers' and assistants' pay, pension and National Insurance contributions.

"Far from there being a quarter of a billion pounds of cash to spare, we are nationally in debt - we are in the red to the tune of more than 250m."

HEAD TEACHERS' SURVEY
Almost 17% of schools had a cash decrease
More than a quarter got less than a 5% rise
Only 22% have 10% or more - the amount needed to meet increased costs
Source: NAHT survey of more than 700 schools in 136 areas

But worse was to come - because the funding settlement announced by the chancellor last summer was for three years.

In the agreement on reducing teachers' workloads by employing more assistants and giving them guaranteed time off for such things as lesson preparation, ministers had said there would be 3bn extra by 2005/06.

"It is our view that the figure of 3bn is considerably over-inflated and that the real figure is of the order of 500m."

His union had signed the deal on the understanding that the necessary resources would be forthcoming.

"Clearly, that condition has not been met."

It would be "disastrous" for schools and the government if it tried to "trumpet" having an agreement when it was clearly failing, heading towards the next general election, he said.

The shadow education secretary, Damian Green, said: "This latest attempt at passing the buck for the schools' funding crisis to local government does not survive the most cursory examination.

"Why are teachers facing redundancy in the many local authorities the government has not mentioned, if this is not a national crisis?

'Shoddy and misleading'

"Charles Clarke should now open the Department for Education's own books to an independent audit, so that we can see how much extra is being spent on bureaucracy.

"There are 25% more education bureaucrats in post than when Labour came to power. It is no wonder that too much taxpayers' money is not reaching our schools."

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Phil Willis added: "This is a poor attempt by the government to lay all the blame at the door of the LEAs. Charles Clarke has now lost the trust of both teachers and their employers.

"This crisis has been caused by a lack of joined-up central government.

"Schools have had to cope with rises to National Insurance, teachers' pay and pensions as well as changes to local government finance - all of which came into force at the same time.

"The consequences of this hasty implementation is now clear.

"The education secretary should have questioned the LEAs about their spending decisions and their impact on schools before he released this shoddy and misleading analysis.

"That would have been the action of an education secretary with the best interests of schools and pupils at heart. Instead Charles Clarke acted in the best interest of the government, by swiftly passing the buck to the LEAs."


The table below shows three key figures from the data published by the Department for Education:
  • How much of the money intended for the schools budget has been passed on - most authorities put in council tax money, so give more than they are expected to.
  • The difference between the increases for schools and the increase for LEA central services. The government argues that a positive figure shows councils have placed a greater priority on devolving money to schools.
  • Funding that is supposed to be devolved but has not yet been allocated - totalling 532.9m nationally.

LEA
Passed on
Priority
Not yet
allocated
North East
Darlington
116.1% *
-2.7%
0.7
Durham
107.8%
-1.4%
3.8
Gateshead
99.2%
-1.8%
2.5
Hartlepool
102.2%
-2.9%
3.0
Middlesbrough
119.0%
-4.8%
1.2
Newcastle upon Tyne
102.1%
-2.1%
1.3
North Tyneside
98.8%
-2.1%
1.3
Northumberland
98.1%
-1.3%
2.9
Redcar and Cleveland
103.8% *
-1.2%
2.9
South Tyneside
109.0%
-0.4%
1.5
Stockton-on-Tees
100.9%
-2.5%
0.4
Sunderland
98.0%
-1.1%
1.8
North East Total
23.3
 
North West
Blackburn with Darwen
100.3%
-1.8%
1.1
Blackpool
104.5%
-1.9%
0.5
Bolton
103.7% *
-1.8%
1.2
Bury
115.7% *
0.3%
0.2
Cheshire
100.3%
-2.8%
6.5
Cumbria
100.6%
-1.5%
0.0
Halton
117.0%
-1.9%
0.6
Knowsley
104.4%
-3.0%
0.9
Lancashire
103.0%
-1.8%
1.3
Liverpool
94.9%
0.9%
6.2
Manchester
98.4%
-2.6%
6.1
Oldham
100.2%
-2.4%
4.1
Rochdale
113.7% *
-0.5%
2.9
Salford
102.3%
-1.3%
3.3
Sefton
100.3% *
-1.2%
3.4
St. Helens
120.6% *
-0.9%
1.4
Stockport
100.1%
-2.2%
NA
Tameside
105.4% *
-2.8%
1.1
Trafford
89.9%
0.3%
0.0
Warrington
111.0% *
-0.1%
2.2
Wigan
114.2% *
-0.5%
3.8
Wirral
100.0%
1.6%
4.4
North West Total
51.1
 
Yorkshire and the Humber
Barnsley
91.4%
-1.6%
2.3
Bradford
104.3%
-1.6%
11.7
Calderdale
100.0%
-0.9%
2.4
Doncaster
104.7% *
-2.2%
1.5
East Riding of Yorkshire
104.1% *
-1.4%
6.8
Kingston Upon Hull, City of
100.2%
0.8%
7.6
Kirklees
101.4%
-1.2%
4.3
Leeds
106.1%
-1.7%
9.3
North East Lincolnshire
105.3%
-5.0%
1.6
North Lincolnshire
100.3%
-2.7%
4.2
North Yorkshire
101.1%
-2.2%
1.5
Rotherham
106.9%
-1.2%
4.6
Sheffield
100.1%
-1.8%
3.9
Wakefield
103.6%
-1.7%
5.4
York
110.4%
-2.6%
1.0
Yorkshire and the Humber Total
68.0
 
West Midlands
Birmingham
105.3% *
-0.5%
20.3
Coventry
106.2% *
-1.9%
3.1
Dudley
107.9% *
-0.9%
1.5
Herefordshire
97.3%
-2.2%
1.5
Sandwell
108.9% *
-0.3%
4.9
Shropshire
106.8%
-1.7%
1.9
Solihull
114.6%
-0.3%
5.2
Staffordshire
106.2%
-0.6%
6.1
Stoke-on-Trent
99.5%
0.4%
0.0
Telford and Wrekin
129.6% *
-1.9%
0.8
Walsall
104.6% *
-2.9%
5.1
Warwickshire
106.7% *
-2.9%
0.0
Wolverhampton
108.5% *
0.1%
4.5
Worcestershire
103.5%
-0.8%
3.7
West Midlands Total
58.6
 
East Midlands
Derby
101.2%
-0.2%
1.4
Derbyshire
104.9%
-0.5%
12.7
Leicester
100.0%
-1.1%
6.0
Leicestershire
100.0%
2.4%
8.1
Lincolnshire
100.9%
-0.2%
8.0
Northamptonshire
110.3% *
-1.3%
4.5
Nottingham
114.0%
-1.9%
6.3
Nottinghamshire
106.6%
-1.5%
2.5
Rutland
101.5%
-0.3%
0.2
East Midlands Total
49.6
 
Eastern
Bedfordshire
100.1%
-1.8%
5.1
Cambridgeshire
113.0% *
-3.3%
0.0
Essex
99.2%
-1.2%
21.2
Hertfordshire
103.5%
-0.2%
17.5
Luton
104.8% *
-1.4%
7.1
Norfolk
103.1%
-1.4%
10.7
Peterborough
117.2% *
-0.9%
1.9
Southend-on-Sea
100.0%
-1.6%
0.8
Suffolk
100.4%
-0.9%
12.2
Thurrock
107.6% *
-1.8%
1.4
Eastern Total
78.0
 
Inner London
Camden
120.5%
-3.0%
5.6
Greenwich
100.8%
-1.6%
7.8
Hackney
109.3% *
-3.5%
1.1
Hammersmith and Fulham
107.0%
-4.4%
2.6
Islington
101.1%
0.7%
3.9
Kensington and Chelsea
101.1%
-3.6%
0.3
Lambeth
104.4%
-0.8%
1.7
Lewisham
105.6% *
-0.2%
3.5
Southwark
NA
NA
NA
Tower Hamlets
107.0% *
-0.5%
4.3
Wandsworth
92.9%
0.4%
4.1
Westminster
73.8%
-0.3%
2.0
Inner London Total
41.9
 
Outer London
Barking and Dagenham
100.1%
-4.1%
NA
Barnet
97.3%
-2.0%
NA
Bexley
137.2%
-2.4%
2.4
Brent
101.3%
0.3%
2.8
Bromley
100.1%
0.8%
4.8
Croydon
90.2%
-3.1%
6.3
Ealing
100.3%
-0.8%
2.2
Enfield
109.8%
-0.2%
2.2
Haringey
100.0%
-1.7%
4.0
Harrow
99.8%
-2.6%
2.1
Havering
112.8%
-0.2%
3.7
Hillingdon
100.1%
-0.1%
0.8
Hounslow
105.4%
-1.2%
2.6
Kingston upon Thames
101.0%
-0.4%
0.4
Merton
101.6%
-2.3%
0.8
Newham
95.7%
2.0%
2.7
Redbridge
103.2%
-0.6%
1.9
Richmond upon Thames
109.2%
0.9%
NA
Sutton
100.1%
0.0%
1.7
Waltham Forest
101.0%
-0.5%
3.5
Outer London Total
44.7
 
South East
Bracknell Forest
101.5%
-0.8%
0.5
Brighton and Hove
103.7%
-1.8%
3.4
Buckinghamshire
113.4%
-1.4%
9.8
East Sussex
105.1%
-0.6%
1.4
Hampshire
105.1%
0.1%
13.3
Isle of Wight
106.4%
-2.2%
1.0
Kent
100.5%
-0.9%
18.5
Medway
120.7%
-1.1%
4.6
Milton Keynes
105.8% *
-1.6%
2.6
Oxfordshire
100.0%
-0.4%
2.0
Portsmouth
100.2%
-1.3%
2.5
Reading
112.0% *
0.9%
2.5
Slough
93.0% *
-1.3%
0.7
Southampton
122.1%
1.1%
1.7
Surrey
103.0%
-0.5%
7.4
West Berkshire
102.6% *
-0.1%
0.9
West Sussex
99.0%
-0.9%
0.0
Windsor and Maidenhead
100.0%
0.4%
1.0
Wokingham
109.2% *
-1.4%
0.5
South East Total
74.5
 
South West
Bath and North East Somerset
102.2%
-0.5%
5.3
Bournemouth
105.7%
-2.9%
1.0
Bristol, City of
100.4%
-1.4%
2.5
Cornwall
105.0%
-2.1%
1.1
Devon
104.1%
-1.2%
0.0
Dorset
113.1%
-0.9%
4.3
Gloucestershire
100.6%
2.5%
4.7
North Somerset
114.6% *
0.5%
1.5
Plymouth
108.0%
-2.1%
5.3
Poole
100.9%
-3.4%
0.7
Somerset
100.0%
0.4%
9.5
South Gloucestershire
102.0% *
-1.0%
2.5
Swindon
100.2%
-0.9%
1.5
Torbay
109.1%
-1.0%
0.7
Wiltshire
105.7% *
0.2%
2.7
South West Total
43.3



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The BBC's Mike Baker
"The 500 million question: how is it with all the extra money schools are having to make cuts?"



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