Thursday, 11 August 2011

County Council May Face Massive Cash Cuts To Fund Academies

Cambridgeshire County Council may soon find itself forced to make cuts in this year’s budget to find the extra money needed to fund the schools that have become academies.

The government has realised that it is wildly over budget for its academy programme and is now consulting about how to plug the gap.

In a recent consultation document the government conceded that it is facing a shortfall of over £600 million over the two year period 2011-2013. This has arisen because it is paying academies more money than they need and consequently more schools have decided to become academies than expected.

Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for Education, Cllr Peter Downes said:

“This amounts to a bribe to persuade schools to convert to academies and leave the Local Authority so that Mr Gove can demonstrate the 'success' of his academy policy. This will fragment our education system, which is already under financial pressure.

“Mr Gove's policy, clearly supported by the Tories in Cambridgeshire, is divisive, unfair and unsustainable.”

In Cambridgeshire four primary schools have become academies and two more are expected to convert by October 1st. 17 secondary schools have left the Local Authority already and five more are on the way.

The Council has already lost £1.71 million from this year’s budget and now stands to lose a further £3 to £4 million, depending on exactly when schools convert.

Cllr Fiona Whelan, Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for Adults’ and Children’s Social Care said:

“It is impossible to defend or justify transferring money out of services to the most vulnerable adults and children just so that a few relatively privileged schools can get a cash boost.”

Council officers expect to hear the government’s decision early in September.