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Yes, councils have missing pound;500 million, say ministers

THE GOVERNMENT will again attempt to blame LEAs for the schools funding crisis today, releasing figures which ministers say confirm the authorities are sitting on the "missing" money.

Education Secretary Charles Clarke will issue information on all 150 councils in England and will ask them to explain their budget decisions and why they have not passed on more money to schools.

The local authorities have already hit back, claiming that the majority of the "missing millions" was never meant for schools.

The survey is expected to confirm earlier suggestions that at least two LEAs have yet to allocate more than pound;15 million to schools and that one fifth of the authorities still have more than pound;5m to allocate.

Nearly a quarter of LEAs are planning to use more than pound;2m of their revenue funding for capital projects and some have made huge increases in funding for special educational needs, it will say.

The Government was forced to deny that it had leaked an early draft of the survey after press reports that Conservative councils would be prominent among those "named and shamed".

Peter Deshpande, director of education in Bournemouth, one of the councils named in the press, said: "We are so confident of the fairness of our schools funding that we invite the Government to send its own technical experts to examine our books." Graham Lane, Local Government Association education chair, said: "The 'missing' cash is not part of schools'

individual budgets so identifying it won't improve their situation."

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