Government reveals extent of council education funding cuts

By Joe Lepper

| 18 December 2015

The government has confirmed the extent of cuts to council funding for education support services next year.

Childcare minister Sam Gyimah outlined to parliament details of cuts to council education funding. Picture: UK Parliament

In a statement to parliament, childcare minister Sam Gyimah said education support grant (ESG), which funds councils' school improvement and support work, will be reduced from £87 to £77 per pupil in 2016/17.

It follows the announcement made by Chancellor George Osborne at the Spending Review that the ESG would be cut by £600m over the next five years. The move has been made as part of the government’s commitment to reduce councils’ role in running schools.

The announcement was criticised by teachers’ unions.

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “It is a sad indictment of government that it fails to recognise the simple fact that a world-class education system needs to be properly funded and resourced.   

“The ESG was cut by 20 per cent under the previous government. The further reduction from £87 to £77 per pupil confirmed today will result in yet more cuts to provision in an area that has already been hard hit.

“The government needs to understand that education cuts don’t heal, they are letting a generation of students down who deserve and expect better.”

Gymiah added that an extra £92.5m will be available for the element of the direct schools grant that supports pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

He also confirmed that pupil premium rates will remain at 2015/16 rates over the next financial year.

In a separate move, the government published details of the draft local government finance settlement for 2016/17, which contains the first tranche of cuts in government funding for local authorities over the next four years.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark told the House of Commons that most of the reductions will take place in the next two years. Total funding from central government to councils will fall by 2.8 per cent in 2016/17 but will level out by 2019/20, he added.

He said that the four-year settlement, which includes an extra £3.5bn for adult social care, will give councils greater control over their finances and “protects the resources available to councils over the next four years”.

But Local Government Association chairman Lord Gary Porter said: “There are still significant challenges ahead for councils who will have to make efficiency and other savings sufficient enough to compensate for any additional cost pressures they face.

“These include those arising from general inflation, cost pressures in the care sector and increases in the number of adults and children needing support and rising levels of need.”

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