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East Lancs schools cash cutback anger
PLANS being considered could see education funds to East Lancashire councils cut by 20 per cent.
The government is considering plans to reduce council-level funding as more schools decide to become academies and free schools.
Blackburn with Darwen’s cabinet member for schools Dave Harling said the decision was a ‘farce’ as there was already not enough money to go around.
Lancashire County Council said the move was ‘disappointing’ but added that many schools, including academies, voluntarily choose to pay for their services.
Coun Harling said Blackburn with Darwen Council was already topping up the amount it received from central government.
He said: “The costs of providing overall educational support as a council is really quite expensive. School transport alone is about £2million. Even if a school does choose to become an academy we can’t disregard our overarching responsibilities for things like that.
“It is a farce. There are schools who are clearly independent and able to look after themselves but a lot of schools around need additional support. Many chose to buy our services, but the funds we get to oversee education overall is low.
“I would really not be happy if this went through because it is just an attack on local government.”
Lancashire County said it would have a small effect. Coun Matthew Tomlinson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “I’m pleased to say that in Lancashire we have been taking the approach advocated by the DfE — that of charging for school advisory services — for about 15 years. We work in close partnership with schools, and our services are both valued and trusted: they are bought in by 99 per cent of primary and 81 per cent of secondary schools, 88 per cent of special schools and 100 per cent of nursery schools.
“Any reduction in government funding for this area of work is disappointing.
“However, as only those activities which the county council is legally responsible for — monitoring schools and drawing up intervention plans for those which are struggling – come out of county hall coffers, the reductions would only affect a relatively small pot of money in Lancashire.”
Plans to cut a further £200 million from school funding, which have been recently consulted on by the Department for Education, will reduce money paid per pupil to councils.
The grant is worth £116 per pupil to each maintained school this academic year. Academy schools receive the money directly and get £140 per pupil.