State school debt due to double, research suggests

The study involved a freedom of information request enquiring how much money maintained schools in England and Wales had asked to borrow from local authorities in order to cover their budget deficits in each of the past three years.

Data was procured from 75 per cent of the councils, with 137 out of the 174 and painted a ‘worrying picture’. Figures found that the total amount given to schools to borrow rose from £35.8 million to £51.7 million between the 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years.

In November, the total for 2015-16 already stood at £56.7 million, with nearly half the financial year to go. The figures also found that the average permitted deficit per school is now £122,828 approaching double the £66,580 figure from 2013-14.

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders union, suggested that the research highlights how cost pressures on schools are 'really biting’.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “It is up to individual schools to ensure that they manage their budgets to prevent going into debt. We have always been clear that local authorities need to work with schools to prevent any deficits and surpluses becoming significant.”

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