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Schools' worry over funding plight
6:10pm Wednesday 24th October 2012 in Local
CUTS to school funding across Worcestershire have been controversially approved – with the worst-hit facing reductions of up to eight per cent next year.
Worcestershire County Council has agreed to adopt a new Government formula for the 2013/14 year which means drastic reductions for some schools.
The cabinet admitted there will be winners and losers under the cuts, but said it was reluctantly following instructions from the Department for Education in simplifying the system.
However, the county council has stopped short of agreeing the same model for the 2014/15 year, and insists it will have more time to lobby the Government for a better result by then.
It was revealed last week some schools face savage cuts of up to 40 per cent by 2015 onwards unless the council fights for a better outcome.
The only thing stopping cuts of up to 40 per cent being implemented now is a minimum funding guarantee (MFG), which means reductions cannot be worse than minus 1.5 per cent per pupil.
During a cabinet meeting last week, the council’s leadership admitted it was effectively hamstrung by Government policy.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, county council leader, said: “20 years ago we were mid-table in a league table of school funding across the country – now we’re virtually bottom.
“We are in a position not of our own making.”
He said that the authority was planning to produce the data on its website so the public can see the efforts made to be as fair as possible.
Redditch MP Karen lumley, who recently spoke in a parliamentary debate on the funding plight, said: “The result from the debate was a very good one and a huge lift for some of our schools in Redditch who are understandably worried by how the new changes will affect them."
“The MFG will mean that these schools will have the impact of the changes minimised.
“Indeed, as a result of these changes, some schools in Redditch will actually be better off and I am proud to be part of a Government which is helping children and addressing the educational issues in places such as Redditch, an issue abandoned in 13 years of Labour in Government.”
Mrs Lumley added that it was her mission to make sure children in Redditch have the same start as children in other areas of the country.
The Government, which is responsible for the funding, has altered the formula for distributing cash to schools from 38 factors to just 12.
There will be no extra money provided, meaning council chiefs have been tasked with taking cash away from schools to hand it to others in order to meet the criteria.
The Government has confirmed no cuts will be worse than minus 1.5 per cent per pupil, something known as the Minimum Funding Guarantee (MFG).
The MFG applies for 2013/14 and 2014/15, but there is no guarantee for the year after.
Without any long term commitment to the MFG, schools in Worcestershire face cuts of up to 40 per cent, and a quarter will lose over 10 per cent of their yearly grant, raising fears some will be forced to close.
The county council has agreed to approve the formula for 2013/14, but has refused to rubber-stamp it for 2014/15, and will lobby for more money.