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School Cost-Cutting: £500,000 For Essential Maintenance Withheld

School Cost-Cutting: £500,000 For Essential Maintenance Withheld

school cost-cutters

The government is withholding £500,000 for essential repairs from 17 schools in a school cost-cutting measure. This is because the schools haven’t agreed to a visit from Lord Agnew’s cost-cutters. This comes just days after even more conditions that schools must meet to receive maintenance money. Keep reading to get all the details!

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The government will begin to penalise trusts bidding for next year’s £400 million condition improvement funding (CIF). This will apply if they have excessive executive pay or poor governance. Critics have deemed this new points system unfair because it only applies to smaller trusts. Larger trusts with five or more schools must apply for funding via a different route. These conditions don’t apply to this route.

School Cost-Cutting Makes Life More Difficult

school cost-cutters

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he was “increasingly concerned” about the “strings attached” to grant funding:

The deterioration of the school estate is a well-documented problem and the department should not be making it more difficult for schools to access what little capital funding is available.

The government said the additional CIF criteria would “incentivise academies and trusts to improve finances and governance”. This all follows the department advising winning trusts earlier this year that they would only get the allocated cash after agreeing to a visit from a school resource management adviser (SRMA).

DfE Responds

The DfE had to respond to a freedom of information request which revealed that 1,192 of 1,209 of the winning 2019-20 trusts had agreed to an SRMA visit. As yet, no one has rejected a visit but £500,000 has been withheld from the 17 yet to respond. Most CIF projects will have been funded in two tranches over the summer.

The DfE have not been approached by any school to say they were unable to progress or pay contractors because of withheld cash. The DfE also said they were working with non-compliant trusts so projects could “continue as planned”.

Geoff Barton went on to say:

It is deeply worrying that money that has been allocated for keeping buildings safe and in good working order is being withheld to leverage an unconnected policy.

The aforementioned FOI request also exposes possible issues with the SRMA program. Of this year’s CIF projects, SRMA visits have been completed or are scheduled for just 248. This means just four-fifths are still waiting for a date to be pencilled in.

A DfE spokesperson said it was determined that all children should learn in “classrooms that enable them to gain the knowledge and skills they need for success”. They added it would not be appropriate to identify the schools that have had cash withheld.

Do you work at a school that has had cash withheld? How has this affected life at your school? We’d love to hear from you in the comments so be sure to let us know!

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Gunta Birzniece
11/04/2018

 

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