School improvement may stall unless central government reverses its decision to cut £600 million from councils’ Education Services Grant, Lib Dems have warned.

The Government’s ‘Education Excellence Everywhere’ White Paper set out plans for the Grant to end for schools in 2017. With councils historically having to top up this annual grant to around £815m each year, the proposed reduction in funding could have a serious negative effect on children’s education.

Cllr Liz Green, LGA Lib Dem Spokesperson on the Children and Young People Board, said:

“Councils across the country are talking to their school forums right now, planning their budgets for next year and it is looking bleak. Government has told councils that they can only expect to receive £50 million next year to carry out the exact same duties that normally cost them up to £815 million annually. Government should use the upcoming Local Government Finance Settlement to reverse this funding reduction.

“Only this month, Ofsted found that 89 per cent of council-maintained schools are now rated as either good or outstanding. Inspectors also recognised the increase in school performance overall across the country was a direct result of the number of council-maintained primary schools improving during 2015/16. This hard work and future planning cannot be put at risk.”

As well as allowing councils to work closely with their local schools to improve where necessary, the grant also helps ensure children are well supported with speech therapy, physiotherapy and good attainment. It also allows councils to plan ahead for more school places and run criminal checks before recruiting staff.

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