No-Deal Brexit Could Cost Schools £85 Million, According To DfE
Spending in schools is already a major concern for leaders and teachers, but now it could be getting worse. A secret government document, claiming that free school meals could cost schools £40-£85 million more, has leaked. The leak is from a DfE analysis of potential no-deal Brexit risks.
The five-page document, known as “DfE No Deal Programme – Schools”, also warns that schools may have to close. It also claims there could be disruption to exams if a no-deal Brexit goes through in October. It goes on to suggest that teachers could be absent from school due to travel disruptions.
The analysis, classified as “Official sensitive”, isn’t for public viewing, but The Observer managed to see a copy last week. One section of the paper – “School food”, says that panic-buying could result in a shortage of fresh food for meals. There is also a suggestion that making the public aware of this could make matters worse:
The risk that communications in this area could spark undue alarm or panic food-buying among the general public.
The paper follows this up with warnings that “warehousing and stockpiling capacity will be more limited in the pre-Christmas period. The department has limited levers to address these risks.”
No-Deal Brexit, Worst-Case Scenario
The analysis provides a ‘worst-case scenario’ for free school meal price increases. It marks this at £40 – £85 million based on a price increase of 10 – 20 per cent.
In a section headed “School travel”, the analysis warns of the risk of travel disruption in Kent, for example. It warns it “could result in school and early-years settings closures, pupil and staff absence and exam disruption”.
Lord Agnew created the analysis after being reappointed by Boris Johnson as academies minister last week. Mr Johnson has said that he will take the UK out of the EU, “deal or no deal” on 31 October this year.
The paper also talks about the risk of shortages in medical supplies and equipment, especially to special schools. It does clarify that the risk is low, and the Department was confident it could maintain the delivery of services.
When asked about the analysis, a DfE spokesperson said:
While we don’t comment on leaked documents, our recently published guidance to schools and other stakeholders already provides advice and guidance on EU exit preparations for schools, including food provision, medical supplies and guidance for EU nationals. We are confident we can protect provision for schools in the event of the UK having to leave the EU without an agreement, and there are robust contingency plans in place to ensure schools are prepared in all eventualities.
As always, we’d love to know what you think. Whatever your opinions on Brexit, this kind of cost increase to schools simply is not sustainable. If you work at a Kent school, do you think travel disruptions will affect your journey to work? Be sure to let us know your opinions in the comments!
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