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Cambridgeshire’s education funding slashed by £4m after government error

Schools in Cambridgeshire are due to receive more than £4million less funding than they had been told to expect after a government error.

Cambridgeshire County Council said the reduction in planned funding had “significant implications”.

Cambridgeshire is one of the lowest funded education authorities in the country
Cambridgeshire is one of the lowest funded education authorities in the country

The council had been told it would be getting £477million in school funding for 2024/25, but this has been scaled back to £473million after the Department for Education made an error in its estimation of pupil numbers in the country.

The government had initially said it would increase the amount of funding per pupil by 2.7 per cent in 2024/25. However, due to the error, this increase will now be 1.9 per cent per pupil.

Jonathan Lewis, director of education, told a meeting of the authority’s children and young people committee on October 10: “For Cambridgeshire this meant we went from a budget of £477million down to £473million, so a reduction of just over £4million.

“Obviously the implication is that with the pay award and the other challenges that we are facing that is quite a significant implication.

“We are working through at the moment the schools budgets, we will be bringing them to you for consideration in January for final consideration, we will try to bring you a draft in November.

“Per pupil wise we continue to be one of the lowest funded in the country, we remain 136th out of 149 local authorities for our level of funding.

“We are only £130 per pupil above the lowest funded local authority in the country.

“It is going to be very challenging, obviously we are very disappointed with the national picture, but we will have to deal with that and we will obviously advise you on that as we progress the budget setting process.”

The meeting also heard that the county council was facing challenges in other areas with a current overspend of £8.3million of its children in care budget.

Commenting on the news, Cambridge Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said: “I go into schools every week, and the message I’m told time and again is that funding is tight, and that every penny counts. This error has created a lot of unnecessary problems for Cambridgeshire schools that are already feeling the strain, and frankly, points to a Department of Education in disarray under the idiosyncratic leadership of Gillian Keegan, and a breakdown in their relationship with the Civil Service.”

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