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Schools hit by spending curb while Hampshire gets cash boost
FUNDING for school repairs in Southampton has been cut sharply – raising fresh fears of leaking roofs and crumbling classrooms.
But most of Hampshire will enjoy a small funding boost, after the department for education ripped up the spending formula.
The allocations for 2013-14 – for everything from repairs and new equipment, to extra classrooms – revealed an 8.6 per cent cut in Southampton, from £8.82m this year, to £8.06m.
The Isle of Wight saw a massive drop in its allocation (36.5 per cent), but Hampshire County Council emerged a winner (up 1.1 per cent).
The figures do not include cash that goes directly to independent academies.
However, even the surge of academies over the past year is unlikely to explain the big funding cut in Southampton and in many other areas across the country.
Instead, the city appears to be a victim of a shift to building new classrooms where school rolls are expanding the fastest. That has left less in the spending pot for tackling the backlog of repairs to buildings, or for giving head teachers direct funding for new IT equipment, for example.
Announcing the £3.2billion settlement, Education Secretary Michael Gove admitted: “Some local authorities will see their funding go up, while others will see funding levels go down.
“This reflects changes in the number of new school places required in different areas of the country, as well as the use of more detailed data, and it is right that money is allocated where it is needed.”
But Stephen Twigg, Labour’s schools spokesman, said: “We have seen huge cuts under David Cameron’s Government to the budget for school buildings.
“It is no wonder that many schools are in poor repair and overcrowded.
Hundreds of school rebuilding projects have been cancelled – and only three per cent of schools which need repairs have been rebuilt in three years.”
Across England, as few as 20 out of 252 schemes are expected to start this year.
Cllr Sarah Bogle, Southampton City Council’s Cabinet member for Children’s Services and Learning, said: “All we ever ask for is a fair deal for Southampton but once again that isn’t the case as this funding allocation takes much-needed money away from the city’s schools.
“For the Education Secretary to suggest that these funds are going where they are most needed is wide of the mark – they are absolutely needed here, especially when you take into account the bitter blow of losing out when the Building Schools for the Future scheme was cancelled.”