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Bucks raises taxes to give schools pound;1m

TORY-controlled Buckinghamshire is increasing its council tax by an extra 1 per cent to put an additional pound;1 million directly into schools, writes Clare Dean.

The move, which means council tax bills in the county will rise by 7.5 per cent from April, has been sanctioned by policy-makers and will be formally approved next week.

It follows a survey by pollsters MORI showing that Buckinghamshire residents were prepared to pay extra for improving education.

Two-thirds of the residents who were polled backed increases of at least 7 per cent, or pound;1.50 a week for a Band D property, to raise standards in schools, and protect roads and social services.

They overwhelmingly said the extra money should be spent on education, with most saying schools were the top priority. <> Only older people living in the county - those aged 55 or more - were more likely to prioritise social services for increased spending.

David Shakespeare, the council's policy and resources chairman, said: "Every penny of the extra pound;1m for schools will go directly into their budgets and represent a real terms increase in funding next year."

On top of the pound;1m boost, policy makers have also agreed to put aside pound;800,000 for education to help lever extra cash from Government through the Standards Fund.

This money will provide, among other things, additional classroom assistants and bring extra spending on schools next year to almost 10 per cent or some pound;13.5m.

The new budget for Buckinghamshire will be pound;343m - pound;200m of which will be spent on education.

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