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Leaked report reveals small school budget blow - Farron

September 6, 2016 2:57 PM

Over 200 schools in Cumbria face a budget shortfall of up to £6,500 due to the government's decision not to renew a subsidy for free school meals, a leaked government report shows. South Lakes MP Tim Farron says that "the Conservatives are overlooking the needs of small schools in rural areas".

A leaked government report seen by the Schools Week website, reveals that small schools will be pushed into the red following the removal of a grant to help small primary schools.

All infant schools are currently given £2.30 per meal, but the report argues that, due to economies of scale, schools providing fewer than 100 meals a day need an additional subsidy to break even. In Cumbria, there are 226 schools that would be affected by this.

Earlier this year, the government decided to scrap an additional grant of £2,300 which had been given to help make up the difference for smaller schools. The leaked report shows that without extra funding, schools would face annual shortfall of almost £6500 per school.

Tim said: "The government's own report warned that removing the extra funding would leave schools in the red, yet the government has pressed ahead with the cuts anyway. It is no wonder the government has refused to release the report.

"I am very concerned that schools will have to dig in to teaching budgets in order to break even. The Conservatives have simply not considered the needs of small rural schools in places like Cumbria - this extra funding is essential as they simply don't have the same economies of scale as schools elsewhere.

"The government must give our schools the funds needed to provide free school meals without being pushed into the red."