- Conservative amendment will more than halve debt Brighton & Hove Schools were handed after Labour council error, saving schools £778,000
- Further proposals to stop Council cuts to the Adoption Allowance and the Standards and Achievements programme for schools.
- Conservative proposals would provide £813,000 boost to schools and families in Brighton & Hove
The Conservatives have announced proposals to protect local schools and families threatened by higher debts and budget cuts at Thursday’s Brighton & Hove City Council Budget.
The Conservatives will bring forward an amendment to more than halve the debt local schools in Brighton & Hove have been handed by Labour and the Greens following a £3.3 million council mistake over the pay provided to staff.
Labour and the Greens had asked schools to pay 43% of the costs of this council error (£1.43 million) over 10 years. The Conservative proposals would more than halve this debt to £652,000, to be repaid over 10 years, saving schools £778,000.
Other Conservative Budget proposals announced today include:
- Reversing proposed cuts to the allowance paid to families with adopted children - £10,000
- Reversing proposed cuts to Standards and Achievements programme, a council programme that helps the disadvantaged meet their full potential. This money is used to improve and maintain standards in our schools - £25,000
Conservative Spokesperson for Children, Young People and Skills Vanessa Brown said that the Conservative proposals would protects Schools, families with adopted children and also keep in place a programme providing opportunities for disadvantaged children across the City.
“The Conservatives agree with headteachers who have said that it is unfair that schools had to pay for the Council’s error and I call on all parties to support this amendment on Thursday night to provide this debt relief to schools in Brighton & Hove. Labour and the Greens continually say the Government does not give schools enough money and yet they are willing to put this unfair burden on them for what is a council mistake.
“We also stand with families of adopted children and want to see these proposed cuts reversed. We feel it’s the very worst time to be cutting the inflationary rise to families with adopted children.
“We are already seeing school places drop as families are leaving the city. The cut to the funding for Standards and Achievement within the education and skills budget is also very short sighted. This funding is used to maintain and improve standards in our schools. We know we already have a huge achievement gap amongst disadvantaged children which will have sadly worsened due to the schools being closed.
“We need to make Brighton & Hove an easier place for families to live, not a more difficult place” she added.
Conservative Finance Spokesperson Joe Miller said that the Conservative proposals would be paid for through savings in other parts of the budget.
“These proposals will come from three sources in the budget: The £1m carbon reduction reserve which has no items listed against it as being used in the next two financial years; a one off £150,000 saving from the environmental education strategy, which is essentially a reorganisation and rebranding of what schools and the council already do; and a saving from the trade union facilities time fund” Cllr Miller said.
“This will be a test for the Greens and Labour. Will they choose schools and local children and their education and futures, or prefer having the money stuffed in a council account and a pointless £150,000 strategy document? Will they choose the most needy in our city or their trade union chums?
Budgets are about making choices and as Conservatives we are clear who’s side we are on – families, schools and the disadvantaged in Brighton & Hove.
Conservative Spokesperson for Communities and Equalities Dee Simson said that the council burdening schools with a 10-year debt would disadvantage pupils and needed to be reversed.
“As a long serving Governor at a local primary school, I fully support the amendments we are making.
“Burdening school budgets with a ten year debt following the error made in ‘Term Time Only’ pay to school staff by the council is unfair and will disadvantage pupils.
“Halving it will show an increased willingness to recognise that this was through no fault of the schools and will allow more funding to be spent on essential teaching needs” Cllr Simson said.
Conservative Budget Amendments to be presented to Full Council:
To redirect the £1.000m new Carbon Reduction Reserve shown in Table 4 on page 39 of the agenda, and the £0.150m one off resources for the Environmental Education Strategy as set out in the Corporate Plan Investment Table 2 on page 33 of the agenda. This releases £1.150m one off resources to be reinvested in : -
· Replacing the £0.124m recurrent funding for the Arts Sector Recovery Plan and future development of the sector included in the Corporate Plan Investment Table 2 on page 33 of the agenda, with funding over 3 years utilising £0.372m one off resources;
· Reducing the cost to schools for the Term Time Only back-pay of £1.430m (repaid over 10 years) by £0.778m to £0.652m, to be repaid over 10 years.
Reallocate the £0.124m recurrent funding released from the Arts Sector Recovery Plan and future development of the sector, and allocate as follows: -
· Remove the proposed £0.025m saving in Standards & Achievement within Education and Skills shown on page 85 of the agenda;
It is proposed to replace £0.010m recurrent resources for union facilities time with £0.010m per annum from the Modernisation Fund over the next 2 years to allow time to develop more efficient operating practices as the council utilises more remote working.
- It is proposed to allocate the £0.010m released through this proposal to reverse the saving from Adoption Allowances as shown on page 87 of the agenda, and therefore allow an inflationary increase.