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Bradford councillor concerned as school funding is cut
A senior Bradford councillor last night vowed to fight for extra funding after it was announced the amount of cash allocated for school repairs in Bradford has been slashed heavily – raising fresh fears of leaking roofs and crumbling classrooms.
Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council’s executive member for education, said he was ‘appalled’ to learn the authority would receive a 20.2 per cent cut in its capital spending allocation from the Department for Education (DfE), from £21.42m this year to £17.1 million.
While Bradford is losing money, Leeds will enjoy a boost after the Government department ripped up the formula for how it gives the cash to spend on everything from repairs and new equipment to extra classrooms.
Speaking after the announcement, Coun Berry said he would have expected Bradford to get one of the ‘largest allocations’ because of its ‘acknowledged needs’.
He said: “As a district with one of the largest growth rates and populations, losing out when Building Schools for Future ended, it’s shocking to learn further reduction is planned. We will have a detailed look at the figures and work with all those who represent the district to lobby for increased funding.
“With our dense and difficult terrain it is not easy to build a school when we need one.
“We already have difficulties with that. And there are existing buildings in a poor state that we plan to refurbish. I’m shocked and appalled.”
Calderdale also saw its funding fall sharply (down 15.6 per cent) and Kirklees was also hit (down 6.4 per cent), but Leeds emerged a winner (up 11.3 per cent).
The figures do not include cash that goes to independent ‘academies’. There are more such schools than 12 months ago. However, even the surge of academies is unlikely to explain the huge funding cut in Bradford and in many other areas across the country.
Instead, the city appears to be a victim of a shift to building new classrooms where school rolls are expanding – which is mainly in the South.
Announcing the £3.2 billion settlement, Education Secretary Michael Gove admitted: “Some local authorities will see their funding go up, while others will see funding levels go down.
“This reflects changes in the number of new school places required in different areas of the country, as well as the use of more detailed data, and it is right that money is allocated where it is needed.”
But Stephen Twigg, Labour’s schools spokesman, said: “We have seen huge cuts under David Cameron’s Government to the budget for school buildings. It is no wonder that many schools are in poor repair and overcrowded. Hundreds of school rebuilding projects have been cancelled.”
Last year, cash was promised to rebuild 35 Yorkshire schools in the worst state of repair, under the Priority School Building programme.
But, across England, as few as 20 out of 252 schemes are expected to start this year, amid doubts over private finance (PFI) deals.