Local authorities based in cities across the UK have urged education secretary Justine Greening to invest an extra £335 million in education, to avoid harming the economy or children's education.
School funding cuts will affect the quality of education children receive, starve businesses of skilled employees and ultimately damage the prospects of the UK economy, according to London Councils and Core Cities UK, which represent local authorities in London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. In a joint letter to Ms Greening, both groups say squeezed budgets could damage city growth and development. They urge the government to invest £335 million nationally to enable the new funding formula to be introduced without any funding cuts to any schools in the country.
Some urban areas are being hit particularly hard by the funding formula, which is set to be introduced from 2018. Eight of the 10 local authorities set to lose the most under the formula are based in London.
Judith Blake, leader of Core Cities UK, said: “Together, London Councils and the Core Cities represent areas that drive 50 per cent of the UK economy, which is why we are urging government to recognise that reducing funding for our schools will deal a huge blow to growth and productivity.
"If we do not act now, local labour markets in the UK’s most productive cities will not have access to the right mix of skills to attract and retain business.” Claire Kober, chair of London Councils, said: “Transforming school performance requires both leadership and investment, which is why we are calling on government to find an additional £335 million to ensure no school loses out as a result of the national funding formula.
"Finding additional resources can be a challenge, but failing to invest in schools now will have a range of damaging consequences, not only on young people themselves but on the cities they live in too.”
Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “Schools are facing unprecedented cuts to their budgets and all the Tories have to offer are warms words about how they will help them make the savings.
“When headteachers are faced with the choice of keeping the lights on or letting go of teachers, this is galling to say the very least.
“Children deserve more from this Tory government who have created a school funding crisis, chronic teacher shortages and super-sized classes.”
A Department for Education spokesman said: "The government has protected the core schools budget in real terms since 2010, with school funding at its highest level on record at more than £40 billion in 2016-17. But the system for distributing that funding across the country is unfair, opaque and outdated. We are going to end the historic post code lottery in school funding and under the proposed national schools funding formula, more than half of England’s schools will receive a cash boost.
He said that London will remain the highest funded part of the country under the proposals, with inner London schools being allocated 30 per cent more funding per pupil than the national average. However, this partly reflects higher costs in the capital.
The spokesman added: "Significant protections have also been built into the formula so that no school will face a reduction of more than more than 1.5 per cent per pupil per year or 3 per cent per pupil overall. But we recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways, including improving the way they buy goods and services, so they get the best possible value."
The funding formula consultation runs until 22 March.