Academy trusts' growing debt brings total deficit to £65m

'The rise is another sign of the impact of the government’s cuts to school funding'

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Thursday 26 July 2018 16:30
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Union leaders have warned that the rise was another sign of the impact of government cuts to school funding
Union leaders have warned that the rise was another sign of the impact of government cuts to school funding

A growing number of academy trusts have fallen into debt - bringing their total deficit to £65m, government data shows.

Union leaders have warned the rise was another sign of the impact of government cuts to school funding.

The figures from the Department for Education show 6.1 per cent of academy chains had a cumulative deficit at the end of the academic year 2016-17, compared to 5.5 per cent in 2015-16.

The cumulative deficit of the 185 academy trusts was £65m, compared to £50m the year before.

The proportion of academies that are in trusts with a deficit stood at 4.3 per cent – a total of 300 academies, the report from the Department for Education (DfE) shows.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: "The rise in the number of academy trusts that are in deficit is another sign of the impact of the government’s cuts to school funding, cuts that will further limit pupils’ educational opportunities.”

The report also found that 91.6 per cent of academy trusts had a surplus, and 2.3 per cent had a zero balance. Overall, the academy sector had a surplus of £2.4bn.

It highlighted that data published by the DfE published last year found that 9.4 per cent of council-run schools in the financial year 2016-17 had a deficit.

Dr Bousted added: “It is clear that the academies sector and schools as a whole are feeling the effects of an unsustainable funding model.

"Earlier this year some of the largest academy trusts warned in their annual accounts of the risks that they faced due to funding pressures and highlighted deficits in the individual academies they oversee.

"The funding pressures on individual schools within trusts are not reflected in these figures.”

The DfE has been approached for a comment.

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