Cuts to school funding could impact on the welfare of up to five million children, a new study has revealed.
Local authorities said the cuts, which are estimated to be in excess of £600 million, will impair their statutory obligation to undertake staff checks, manage asbestos in schools, provide mental health support and maintain school buildings and fields.
The research comes from the Local Government Association (LGA), which found that nearly five million pupils across 350 councils in England and Wales could be affected.
Richard Watts, chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, warned that schools may be forced to pay for regulatory checks themselves.
“Councils have their hands tied. They are legally obliged to provide these services but will have no money to do so unless the school is prepared to pay for it from its own pocket.
“Changes to regulation and school funding mean that councils could fail to meet their legal duties which protect children and teachers whilst at school.”
The report follows news that the Chancellor will set aside just £216 million for school maintenance, despite evidence demonstrating that £6.7 billion is required to fully fix and maintain schools by 2021.
A Government spokesperson said: “As announced at the Spending Review, we will be removing the Education Services Grant general funding rate from 2017-18.
“We recognise that local authorities will need support with this change, which is why we have introduced a new transitional grant worth £125m in 2017-18.
“We have also amended regulations so that local authorities can use other sources of funding to pay for education services once the ESG is removed from September 2017.
“This will allow local authorities to retain some of their maintained schools’ Dedicated Schools Grant so that they can continue to deliver the statutory duties that they carry out on behalf of maintained schools.”