Headlines: December 12th, 2000

The Centre for Policy Studies has condemned waste in the chain of funding provision for schools. The right-leaning think tank argues that local councils are still holding on to far too much money that the Government intends to go to schools.The report picks on a key area of difference for Labour and Conservatives in the election battle ahead in that the current Government argues it is already keeping local education authorities in check, and the Tories want to clip their wings further.

Unfair Funding argues that as a result of Government interventions on the way schools are funded, LEAs now have more opportunities, not less, to hold back money from schools.

It also says councils are holding onto a bigger percentage of the schools budget (over a quarter) though it concedes that some funds, such as the Standards Fund, do go direct to schools.

The paper claims administration costs of 150 LEAs have risen by 36 per cent and seen their funding increased by more than 1.5 million in the last two years. This is compared with a rise of less than four million pounds shared by 25,000 schools.

The Local Government Association, which speaks up for local government, has condemned the report, saying it picks on figures selectively and does not take into account money spent centrally by local authorities, on projects such as special needs education, which give direct benefit to schools.

Unfair Funding by Nick Seaton is available from the Centre for Policy Studies, 57 Tufton Street London SW1P 3QL. Price pounds 7.50.

Data showing expenditure by each LEA can be found at www.cps.org.uk/unfair2.