Calderdale Council leader urges Chancellor to act on school funding ‘crisis’

Picture: PA
Picture: PA
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CALDERDALE’S council leader has called on his Town Hall colleagues to back a motion urging Chancellor Phillip Hammond to reverse cuts that have wiped millions of pounds from the school budgets in recent years.

Coun Tim Swift’s motion, which will go before the full council at its meeting next month, also calls on councillors to lobby the area’s MPs to support the call, and says that £4.7m a year in real terms has been wiped from schools budgets in Calderdale since 2013/14. This follows a report by the School Cuts Coalition, reported in the Yorkshire Post on Tuesday, which said the area’s schools had faced a £17.9m shortfall since 2015.

Coun Swift said there had been growing concern for the state of school funding in recent months, but now was the “time to act” given the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. He said that the effects of austerity on families had led to “more challenging problems” for schools, that were being “hit at both ends”.

“This has been a slow burning crisis, with hidden cuts being passed onto the schools,” Coun Swift said. “We, as a council, do not have the resources to be able to step in and protect services.”

The motion praises the work done by apolitical campaign group Calderdale Against School Cuts (CASC), whose recent research found 76 per cent of schools had concerns regarding balancing their school budget over the next three years. A third had cut teaching staff to balance budgets, while 60 per cent had made reductions in support staff.

CASC’s Sue McMahon said it was “nothing short of scandalous” that schools had been forced into making such drastic cuts.

She said the motion was a “tremendous opportunity for councillors to show their support” for schools.