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£4m left unspent by Lancashire schools
LANCASHIRE schools have hoarded £4million which should have been spent on pupils, it has been claimed.
The county council now plans to claw back £227,440 from schools which have stockpiled cash.
However the amount underspent by Lancashire schools has fallen dramatically in several years.
In 2008, schools across the county were sitting on £60million which was unspent and in 2011, it was still as high as £45million.
Headteachers said it remained very difficult to forecast a budgets as they are set two years ahead.
Lancashire County Council’s schools forum is now considering compulsory training for school finance staff on managing school budgets, which could be paid for with the clawback funds.
Approximately £9,291 will be recouped from four nursery schools and redistributed to others.
And 31 primary schools will also lose funds to the clawback, which will see £134,012 given to other primary schools. A clawback of £84,137 from three special schools will be taken.
Clawback only applies to schools which have a large proportion of unspent budgets.
However the overall surplus is much higher than the funds being pulled back and more than 300 schools hold a surplus as they are allowed a 12 per cent reserve.
At the forum, county Coun Alan Whittaker said: “The current financial climate is no excuse. There have always been rainy days ahead in education.
“These figures equate to more than £1,000 per child in Lancashire and that is money which needs to be spent. It is not something a householder would do with spare cash when there are jobs to done.”
Headteacher Xavier Bowers said Mount Carmel High School, in Accrington, had come under the reserve limit having only underspent less than 10 per cent of the budget.
He said: “It can be really difficult to forecast what is going to happen but I absolutely agree with the principle of clawback. If money is unspent it should be spent on children.”