Hartlepool council bosses to appeal to government for school funding

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Council bosses are to appeal to central government for funding to provide ‘essential’ services for pupils in schools.

Hartlepool Borough Council children’s services committee is to discuss submitting an application to the Secretary of State to set the Education Services General Duties rate for 2019/20.

The money represents the average cost of services local authorities provide to maintain schools.

The council want to maintain the rate at £60 per pupil per school place as it was in 2018/19.

However, since 2017/18 the council has had to apply to secure this funding.

A joint council report by officers Chris Little, for finance and Sally Robinson, for children’s services, warned if it was not granted it would cause problems for education funding.

It said: “Based on the decision made by the Secretary of State in relation to both the 2017/18 and 2018/19 rates, the council has demonstrated the case for the funding required to discharge statutory responsibilities.

“Therefore, this provides a good basis for seeking approval for the 2019/20 rates.

“If the Secretary of State does not agree to the request of £60 per pupil/place the local authority would not have enough funding to discharge essential statutory services to schools.”

Initially the Schools’ Forum for the area, made up of staff from various educational bodies, had the chance to transfer the money to the council for funding, but rejected the opportunity to do so.

A report said this was because they believed funding statutory duties in schools should be provided by central government.

It said: “Schools were clear that it was not because of concerns about the quality of services provided by the local authority, but they considered that funding statutory duties from school budgets is a budget cut and this funding should be provided by the Government.”

New national funding arrangements in 2017/18 shifted responsibility for funding statutory duties from a specific grant to the Dedicated Schools Grant, with no extra  government funding provided to schools.

The committee are recommended to agree to submit a request to the Secretary of State to set the rate at £60 per pupil/place.

It will be the third year the local authority has applied for disapplication to secure the funding.

A decision will be made at the council children’s services committee at the Civic Centre on Tuesday, November 13 at 4pm.

Nic Marko , Local Democracy Reporting Service