Bradford Council is demanding 18 thrifty schools and nurseries pay back nearly £500,000 of unspent funds.

The request was today branded “appalling” and a “slap in the face for schools” by councillors.

In a letter to elected members, Cindy Peek, the Coun-cil’s deputy director of children’s services, said the authority and Education Bradford came to the decision after holding a “rigorous internal process”.

A total of £466,095 will be clawed back. Schools and nurseries affected include Carlton Bolling College in Undercliffe which faces losing more than £168,000, Lilycroft Primary in Mann-ingham (£30,000), Lowerfields Primary in Fenby Avenue, Bradford, (£23,000) and Keighley St Andrew’s Primary (£1,538).

Mrs Peek wrote: “Local authorities can claw back surplus balances from schools which exceed the DCSF recommended limit of five per cent for secondary schools and eight per cent for all other schools where the Governing Body of the school has not assigned the excess surplus above the limit for specific purposes.”

Each school and nursery has the right to appeal.

Councillor David Ward, Liberal Democrat education spokesman and a Carlton Bolling College governor, said: “This is money they were given to spend on educating their pupils. There is no way it should be taken back. This is a slap in the face for these schools, some of which are in the most deprived areas of the district. This is disgraceful.”

Labour education spokes-man Coun Ralph Berry said: “This is an appalling decision. It undermines the independence of schools and is basically a front to bail the Council out of problems elsewhere.”

Alan Jarvis, Education Bradford’s Head of School Funding, said: “Schools which anticipated holding balances in excess of the five and eight per cent limit were required to provide details of projects which had been approved by their governing bodies which would bring these surpluses in line with DCSF requirements and support pupil attainment.

“The majority of schools provided the required information but 18 schools did not meet the set criteria. As a result, the authority has made a decision to claw back £466,000 from these 18 schools.”