Local authorities in Wales are angry.
Speaking to the Senedd’s Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee on 25 October, council representatives said the Welsh Government Budget 2019-2020 leaves them £130m short of what’s needed to maintain school services and teacher numbers.
Welsh Government has told councils that they will be a ‘top priority’ if UK Government Chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget on Monday 29 October delivers new money.
Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams AM, speaking to headteacher union NAHT Cymru delegates at their national conference last week, confirmed that councils would receive any new money for education directly and without restrictions on how it might be spent.
This ‘no strings attached money’ will appear in each council’s Revenue Support Grant (RSG).
Welsh Government funds local authorities through specific grants, the RSG and through the re-distribution of Non-Domestic Rates. Locally, councils raise additional money through council tax, fees and charges.
Money received from the council tax, non-domestic rates and the RSG is not ringfenced and councils can choose how to spend it. In education, this will reflect local decisions about central services and the funding of schools that are maintained by the local authority.
Welsh Government has already confirmed that £15m will be given to fund teacher professional development. This may be passported through the councils and to the four regional consortia, where local authorities work together to deliver school improvement services.
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School leaders in England have been campaigning for better school funding and are demanding good news directly from Chancellor Hammond in Monday’s budget.
School leaders in Wales will also hope for better funding. More for Welsh Government should mean more for local authorities but local arrangements will dictate how much of it arrives at each school.
About the author
Robin has been a school governor for over ten years and is bilingual, Welsh and English. Before becoming a consultant and working with a number of private and public sector educational organisations, Robin had stakeholder management roles in an examination board and was the Wales Secretary for ASCL, a body that represents over 16,000 senior school leaders.