Sunderland schools face £600,000 cut after Government slash education grant

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FUNDING to city schools is set to be cut by the Government.

Sunderland could lose more than £600,000 after ministers agreed to plough ahead with a reduction of the Education Services Grant, ESG.

After months of consultation, the Government has agreed to slice £200million from the grants.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, says she has concerns about the move.

She said: “This grant is an important part of the funding schools and councils get to provide pooled services for pupils and drive improvements in standards.

“After councils have repeatedly warned ministers that slashing this grant risks them not being able to fulfil their statutory duties, it’s disappointing that they’ve gone ahead with it anyway.

“I’ll be monitoring the impact that it has on the quality of education that local children receive.”

The grants will be cut from £113 to £87 for each pupil at a local authority school.

It is estimated Sunderland will lose about £620,000 from the 2015-16 budget, which this year stands at £2.92m. Durham’s grants of £6.49m could be slashed by about £1.5m and South Tyneside’s £2.13m could be reduced by about £490,000.

Money from the grants is used to pay for services to support pupils, such as clothing, extra curricular activities, performing arts and music and outdoor education.

Councillor Pat Smith, cabinet portfolio holder for children’s Services for Sunderland City Council, said: “We will need time to consider how these latest reductions in Government funding will further impact on the services we are able to supply to schools within our city.

“The Education Services Grant is paid to local authorities and academies to reflect the statutory and regulatory duties each are responsible for.

“These include school attendance, school improvement, employer responsibilities and the production of accounts.

“We will now have to determine what long-term effects these cuts in funding will have. For the local authority this needs to be considered alongside other significant reductions in funding.”

Plans to cut the grants have gone ahead despite numerous protests, including from cellist and conductor Julian Lloyd-Webber, who said some authorities were already struggling to provide music education.

However, the Government said it will be making £18million available to set up a series of music hubs.

Announcing the cuts, Schools Minister David Laws, said: “We have had to make some tough decisions, and we expect local authorities and academies to do so too.”