Opt-out schools lose budget cash: Headteachers face shortfalls of up to pounds 100,000 as department advises of new allocations four months into financial year

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Indy Politics
MORE than 20 per cent of England's opted-out schools will receive up to pounds 100,000 less this year than they were originally told by the Government.

Four months after the beginning of the financial year, 99 grant-maintained schools have been told that money for their running costs will be less than the amount notified to them in March.

Final figures, which have just been worked out by the Department for Education, show that eight schools face a reduction of pounds 100,000 and 26 one of pounds 50,000 or more. A further 119 of the 493 opted-out schools have yet to receive a budget for this financial year.

The schools' annual budget pays for teachers' salaries, books and equipment, but not for new buildings.

The figures were revealed in a parliamentary answer to Ann Taylor, Labour's education spokeswoman, who said yesterday that the schools would be plunged into chaos as they tried to cram cuts of between 5 and 10 per cent into seven or eight months.

Many had already hired teachers assuming their budget would match the figure given them by the Department for Education.

The Government hopes that most of the 25,000 schools will eventually go to grant-maintained status. Mrs Taylor said: 'The job is simply too big to be done centrally. If they cannot handle 500 schools, they are not going to cope with 25,000.'

The eight schools which will receive at least pounds 100,000 less than they expected are St Colomba's, Bexley, south-west London; George Tomlinson, Bolton; Merrill Community, Derbyshire; Beauchamps, Essex; Hedley Walter, Essex; Bushey Hall, Hertfordshire; Vyners, Hillingdon; and Tiffin, Kingston.

A department spokeswoman said it was seeking ways to improve the speed with which the schools received final notification of their grant.

The Government was setting up a funding agency and that, not civil servants, would be responsible for budgetary allocation from 1994-95.

Opted-out schools' budgets were tied to those of other schools in the area, she added. Those whose budgets were less than originally expected were in local authorities which were spending less than anticipated on education.