Schools short-changed on ‘Covid-safe’ costs by Conservative Government

The Conservative Government will only reimburse less than one-third of the overall costs incurred by English schools in making their premises ‘Covid-safe’ according to a publication published last month by a leading education think-tank.

A report issued by the Education Policy Institute claims that government money made available through its exceptional costs fund will only cover 31% of overall costs, and in a survey covering 700 schools conducted in November, over half (57%) reported that they are using reserves to cover the shortfall, jeopardising their ability to achieve a balanced budget by the end of the current financial year.

The EPI estimates that, since the first national lockdown in March 2020, primary schools have had to meet additional non-staff costs averaging almost £13,000. These amounted to almost £18,000 for special schools and for secondary schools a whopping £43,000. Much of this was spent on cleaning supplies, personal protection equipment, improving hand-washing facilities, installing new signage, and acquiring digital equipment.

Commenting Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Howard Sykes MBE said: “It is scandalous that whilst this Government told pupils and staff to return to the classroom, meanwhile they were short-changing schools by not meeting their full costs to make their establishments ‘Covid-safe’. Schools are already struggling for finance, especially in areas of economic and social deprivation which have been hardest hit by Covid-19 like Oldham, and this is an additional burden they can do without.

Howard Sykes, looking out across Shaw

“The Oldham Liberal Democrats will continue to press the government to ensure that enough cash is forthcoming for schools to ensure that when our pupils and staff return to the classroom from virtual learning which can keep them safe.”

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