Cuts and costs to balance the books

13th February 1998 at 00:00
NORFOLK is drawing up a draconian cuts package which, education chiefs have warned, may yet impact on school budgets.

John Holmes, the county's education committee chairman, said: "Our priority is to protect schools as much as we possibly can, but that has not made the other cuts and fee increases any more palatable." The county is consulting parents who will in future have to foot the bill for school transport.

CHESHIRE expects to impose a 20 per cent rise in band D council taxes - among the largest in the country. The county claims to have a shortfall of Pounds 16m following reorganisation and the creation of the Warrington and Halton unitary authorities, but has pledged to protect front-line services. However, free transport will end for the 16 to 19-year-old age group at a saving of Pounds 700,000.

In NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, more than Pounds 500,000 will be saved by adding 14p to the price of school meals, and primary schools will have to bear the Pounds 128,000 cost of swimming lessons. A further Pounds 133,000 will be clawed back by restricting the entitlement to clothing and footwear allowances.

Meanwhile, DEVON has been forced to put together a package of cuts including Pounds 400,000 from community education, Pounds 100,000 from youth projects and Pounds 40,000 in English language support.

The reimbursement of long-term cover for absent teachers will also be reduced from Pounds 82 to Pounds 77 per day.

HAMPSHIRE is considering a Pounds 3m spending cut. The biggest saving, of almost Pounds 900,000, will be made by restricting the availability of discretionary awards.

In DURHAM, cuts in education welfare and school meals staff will help to achieve savings of almost Pounds 1m. The cost of school meals and music tuition will also be raised.

SUFFOLK hopes to save Pounds 1.4m and is shedding community education officers, advisory teachers and other support staff. However, the county's education committee will be asked to open a new pupil behaviour support unit and provide more money for socially disadvantaged areas.

Duncan Macpherson, Suffolk's education committee chairman, said that the savings, money from reserves and extra funding from the policy committee would give a boost to schools' budgets of almost Pounds 10m.

Leeds is to close four old people's homes and scrap the planned refurbishment of others to protect schools.Education will receive an extra 5.8 per cent - Pounds 12.5 million - as councillors pass on in full the increase in education SSA. That includes Pounds 10.7m for school budgets and Pounds 1.5 million towards Standards Fund initiatives. But it means a Pounds 3.5m shortfall for social services and a Pounds 350,000 cut in grants to voluntary groups.

SOUTHAMPTON plans to raise education spending by 5.7 per cent, with all the Government's increase in SSA passed on to the service. The new unitary authority's literacy projects will be among the beneficiaries - but leisure and other services will suffer.

DERBY is also passing on the full 5.4 per cent increase in its education SSA - Pounds 4.7 million. But the rest of the city's services face cuts to Pounds 3.4m, with leisure again bearing the brunt.

And not all of Derby's education service will be protected. Cuts are needed in adult education and the youth service, including the Education for All access programme.

NEWHAM in east London sees its education budget increase by 8.7 per cent or Pounds 11.4m, with another Pounds 5m for one-off projects on top. As well as funding the teachers' pay award and rising pupil numbers, it will bankroll major improvements to early-years education including a trained teaching assistant for every reception class, more permanent teachers and an earlier start for summer-born children.

But in Tory WANDSWORTH, an SSA increase of just 2.2 per cent will mean larger class sizes.

SANDWELL in the West Midlands is trumpeting "the best government cash settlement in years". It is putting Pounds 3.7m above inflation into education - but only Pounds 1m of that will go directly to schools.

Dorothy Lepkowska and Nicolas Barnard

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