For any government committed to tacking child poverty and social exclusion through education, the North-east would appear to be a priority area. It has the highest unemployment rate in the UK and its average income is the lowest.
Yet in 19992000, only three of the 12 education authorities in the region received more than the national average of pound;127 per pupil through the Standards Fund.
Next year the situation could be even worse. Whil some authorities are expecting to take up their full allocation, a number have struggled to find the match-funding needed to attract Standards Fund cash.
"We haven't finalised our position yet, but we've told the Department for Education and Employment that we're likely to have to hand back pound;1 million. It will be the first time we haven't taken all the money available," said Keith Mitchell, Durham council's director of education.