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Oxford not sucha big spender;Letter

IN "More are spending less" (TES, April 9), Oxfordshire is singled out as the second worst offender behind Bradford for spending more than pound;6 million below the standard spending assessment for 199899.

The actual spend below SSA was, in fact, pound;5.1m. The pound;6.3m quoted in the article does not take into account pound;1.2m spent on schools' sports halls operated jointly with district councils.

This council has agreed a budget for 19992000 which not only passes on the full increase in SSA to education (4.6 per cent) but also provides an additional real terms increase in spending (1.3 per cent), giving a cash increase of 5.9 per cent. The effect of this is to reduce the level of underspend against SSA to less than pound;3m.

The council has also produced indicative budget plans for 200001 and 200102 for further real-terms increases in expenditure on education of pound;7.8m and pound;11.3m respectively, relative to 19992000.

These planned increases will bring education spending up to the level of the education SSA proposed by government in its expenditure plans for these years, principally at the expense of budget reductions in social services.

Brian Hodgson

Leader, Labour group

Oxfordshire County Council

County Hall, Oxford

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