Cuts leave school support services at risk

Many local authorities face being unable to meet their legal obligations to schools, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

New government rules state that schools must grant permission for councils to provide a number of essential services, including criminal record checks of staff, safeguarding, managing asbestos risk in school buildings and ensuring adequate water supplies are available.

From September 2017, councils will continue to have a statutory duty to provide these services but can only undertake them if the school agrees to do so from its own budget.

The LGA is warning that this could leave approximately five million pupils at risk, as schools are forced to decide what services they are able to maintain due to cuts. This could have a potential knock-on effect for student welfare services, mental health support, fire safety and air quality.

Richard Watts, chair of the LGA's Children and Young People Board said: "Councils have their hands tied. They are legally obliged to provide these services but will have no money to do so unless the school is prepared to pay for it from its own pocket.

"Councils are committed to ensuring all children get access to high quality education and that they can do so in a safe and healthy environment. Changes to regulation and school funding mean that councils could fail to meet their legal duties which protect children and teachers whilst at school.

"Services that were previously provided to schools by councils will become an extra burden for schools, putting additional pressure on already overstretched budgets. If councils are to continue to provide these vital services the £600 million proposed cut to the Education Services Grant needs to be reversed."

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