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Havering Council faces education funding gap

PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 14:35 23 September 2020

Havering Town Hall

Havering Town Hall

Archant

Havering Council has three years to balance its books after overspending millions of pounds on schools this year.

At a meeting of the Schools Funding Forum on September 17, Havering’s strategic finance manager revealed there was a predicted overspend of £2.7million.

The forum heard this is partly due to more children requiring expensive special needs education, as well as a £1.1million deficit left over from last year.

The Department for Education expects any council overspending more than one per cent of its schools funding to submit a plan for how it will rebalance the budget within three years.

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Caroline Penfold, head of the childrens and adults disability service, said the council was responding to its budget gap by “drilling down into” some of the more costly services for children with special educational needs.

She said: “We have been taking a bit more proactive action, highlighting some of the areas we are spending significant amounts of money on.

“That does not mean we are not going to provide (those services) but we want to understand what we are getting for that money, with an emphasis on effectiveness and value for money.”

The council currently spends £3.3million sending special needs students to schools outside the borough, a figure Campion headteacher Keith Williams said was “extremely worrying”.

Strategic finance manager David Allen reassured the forum that the borough’s projected overspend was “much, much lower than other boroughs” in London.


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