Funding allocation angers poor councils

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
An extra pound;52 million for councils has left some puzzled over the share out. Clare Dean reports

Education Secretary David Blunkett gave 120 English councils an extra pound;52 million this week to spend on condition that all the money goes to the local schools budget.

The special grants range from pound;100,000 each, for 79 authorities, to pound;3.67m for Birmingham and more than pound;1m for a further 11 councils.

The bulk, pound;40m, aims to compensate councils with low increases in their education standard spending assessment because they face demographic changes.

It includes cash to help councils find match funding for the larger Standards Fund, and help them meet the pressures of recruitment and retention.

There is also pound;4m compensation for the loss of adult education budgets to the Learning and Skills Council and pound;8m for councils who missed out on neighbourhood renewal funds.

The Department for Education and Employment said the extra funding was on top of increases already announced for 2001-2. But while councils welcomed the money, there were complaints among the poorest that they were not much better-off. Renewed calls were made for a complete overhaul of fundin.

Leicestershire and Rutland, two of the lowest-funded councils, gained just pound;100,000.

Ivan Ould and Simon Galton, Leicestershire councillors, said they did not understand how the funding was distributed. The extra pound;100,000 amounts to less than pound;350 per school. They pointed out that Durham is to get pound;2.8m and asked: "What is so special about Durham?" A spokeswoman for the DFEE said Durham was a large authority being compensated for the loss of adult education budgets. Birmingham, with pound;3.67m, had a comparatively low Standard Spending Assessment and a big increase in matched funding for Standards Fund cash. Bradford, with pound;2.14m, also had a low SSA, she added.

Ministers refused to identify how much cash had been earmarked for teachers' pay but most councils set aside 3 per cent - 0.5 per cent above the Government's original recommendation.

Thirty English councils received none of the pound;52m.

The pound;1 million-plus winners are: Birmingham, pound;3.67m; Durham, pound;2.76m; Bradford, pound;2.14m; Islington, pound;1.4m; Worcestershire, pound;1.35m; Northumberland, pound;1.35m; Knowsley, pound;1.21m; Nottingham, pound;1.13m; Merton, pound;1.06m; Brent, pound;1.03m; Sheffield, pound;1.03m; Wirral, pound;1m.

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