Hertfordshire schools short-changed in £1.9 million of Tory ‘stealth cuts’

Schools in Hertfordshire will miss out on £1.9 million of vital funding because of the way central government has decided to calculate money it allocates for the most disadvantaged children. Over 1,500 children are hit by the funding changes, most of them of primary school age.

Data revealed by a Freedom of Information Act request to Hertfordshire County Council shows that 1,518 pupils began claiming Free School Meals between October 2020 and January 2021. But central government excluded the 1,500 making new claims for free school meals after October 2020 when calculating the Pupil Premium Grant for 2021-22.

The Pupil Premium Grant — extra school funding designed to help the most disadvantaged children — will not be applied to the 1,500 new claimants of Free School Meals after October 2020. This means Hertfordshire schools are being short-changed by £1.9 million this financial year alone.

Mandi Tattershall, school governor in Bennetts End and council candidate for Hemel Hempstead South East ward, said:

“The Conservatives have neglected families throughout this pandemic, and are now depriving schools of the funding needed to support the most disadvantaged children.

“A £1.9 million stealth cut to Hertfordshire’s schools is a kick in the teeth after such a difficult year for families. It stands in sharp contrast to the way the Conservative government has chucked tons of public money at their cronies during the covid crisis.”

Tessa Milligan, a childcare worker in Boxmoor and council candidate for Hemel Hempstead Town ward, said:

“Fiddling the dates used to calculate the funding deliberately deprives our schools of millions of pounds for the most vulnerable children. It is a disgrace.

“We cannot ignore the sharp increase in the number of children in Hertfordshire
claiming Free School Meals. I am dismayed that the County Council, which is well aware
of these figures, has not produced an action plan to tackle the issue.”

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