We did not spend below SSA

20th November 1998 at 00:00
YOUR article entitled "Pounds 110m diverted away from schools" (TES, November 6) accuses Blackpool of spending at 7.1 per cent less than its standard spending assessment in 199899. This statistic does not reflect the true position.

In April 1998 Blackpool became a unitary authority. Given the short time available for us to prepare, we decided it was more important to concentrate on service delivery and getting total costs right than devote management time to carrying out detailed cost allocations. As a result total costs of the education service were not all included in the education committee budget, but under other committee headings as appropriate.

When the costs of Standards Fund, insurance, National Grid for Learning, pensions, capital charges and support services are added in Blackpool is no longer spending below its SSA.

It is no surprise that other new unitaries are also included in your list of underspenders as they have probably adopted a similar pragmatic approach.

Blackpool and its teaching staff are rightly proud of the good start we have made. For example, the percentage increase in the education SSA was passported into the same percentage rise in school budgets (unlike some authorities). As a result the budget allocated per pupil to schools is already higher than is the case in some neighbouring local education authorities.

Dr David Sanders Director of education Blackpool Borough Council

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