Council gives less than half of funds asked for by Primary Schools, as they struggle to cope

Council gives less than half of funds asked for by Primary Schools, as they struggle to cope
Council gives less than half of funds asked for by Primary Schools, as they struggle to cope

Cash-strapped primary schools across Bucks asked the council for more than £600,000 of additional funding as they struggled to cope with a range of budget issues last year, including staffing costs.

However Bucks County Council (BCC) was only able to dish out £278,603 of the money requested in 2017/18, according to a Schools Forum report.

A total of 19 primary schools, which were not identified in the report, submitted bids to the council collectively adding up to £600,742 for a share of the £474,879 contingency fund – a pot of cash set aside to help schools facing financial difficulties.

Reasons for the bids include “unforeseen” staffing costs, additional costs arising from safeguarding issues as well as pupil premium funding, usually paid by government, for traveller children who arrived in the area after the census date.

The contingency panel report, published on the BCC website, stated: “The 2017-18 contingency meeting resulted in £278,603 being allocated to 19 primary schools…

“Unsuccessful applications included bids for special educational needs (SEN) related provision that are not eligible under the panel’s terms of reference.

“These SEN applications were referred to the SEN team for their consideration. The unused balance of £195,834 (after administration costs) has been added to the dedicated schools grant reserve.”

The report also stated that an “exceptional meeting” of the contingency panel was held in in July last year to settle any unresolved claims from the previous financial year – after the final meeting was cancelled due to a “lack of funds”.

The panel reviewed nine bids from primary schools adding up to £249,115, and made the decision to hand out £94,299 of additional funding to six schools.