Not enough cash to plug funding gap
The leader of West Sussex County Council has warned the authority simply does not have the money to plug the gap in education funding.
As one of the poorest funded authority's in the country, West Sussex has received £40million per year less than areas receiving the national average - and £200million less than many London boroughs.
Responding to headteachers' ongoing battle for more government cash, Labour councillors plan to ask the county council to provide schools with £1.3million of emergency funding at a full council meeting tomorrow (Friday February 17).
Councillor Louise Goldsmith said: "“At a meeting with headteachers recently we discussed in details some of the financial pressures they are facing and we will do all we can to help and assist them where we can.
"This is desperate situation, however the shortfall runs at £40million and in the very harsh financial landscape that we now live in we simply do not have the available funds to plug even 10 per cent of this funding gap."
Mrs Goldsmith also responded to calls from Councillor Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate and Crawley Central) for colleagues from all parties to put more pressure on the government to "ensure that schools have the funding they need to provide an excellent education for every one of its pupils".
She said: “The county council has been consistently calling for fairer funding for our schools working with our MPs and headteachers over the last couple of years.
"One of our key policies is to give children the best start in life. So, as the fourth-lowest funded local authority in the country, we realise it is vital that we do everything we can to try to secure enough funding from government to provide our children with the standard of education they deserve.
“We fully understand and are sympathetic to the situation our schools and governors are now facing and we appreciate the funding pressures they are experiencing, not least because we face the same challenges within local government.
"To that end earlier this year the county council agreed to help primary and smaller schools by absorbing the new apprentice levy and also to provide help with the impact of the removal of the general duties education services grant.
These measures alone amount to £2.26million in 2017/18."
Mrs Goldsmith lauded the 'de minimus' approach to funding, which would ensure the basic costs of running each school were awarded before extra money for deprived children or those with learning difficulties was added.
She added: "We will continue to do all we can by working with our MPs and schools to ensure fair funding for our pupils and we hope that solutions can be put in place to avoid any detrimental effects on children in West Sussex.
"Naturally we welcome the support of other parties in order to achieve this.”
The full council meeting will be webcast live from 10.30am on Friday. To watch, log on to westsussex.public-i.tv/core/portal/home .
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