Cuts to Wrexham Council’s Education Budget Threaten Local Schools, Warns Labour Leader
CUTS to Wrexham Council’s education budget could “decimate” schools in the area, it’s been warned.
It comes as the local authority is faced with plugging a forecast budget blackhole of £22.6m for the next financial year.
Senior councillors previously said a reduction in central government funding had left them with no choice but to make savings from the education budget, with redundancies likely to follow.
Although school budgets will technically be boosted by £5.7m in 2024/25, due to inflation it will ultimately result in cuts of £5.4m (five per cent) in real terms.
Speaking at an executive board meeting held today (Tuesday, February 6) opposition Labour leader Dana Davies said she was worried about the impact it would have on schools.
It comes after schools in Wrexham received their indicative budgets for next year last Friday, with at least one primary school said to be facing a six-figure deficit.
The Ruabon councillor said: “My huge concern in this budget is education. The school I’m involved with had its indicative budget and we had a deficit of six figures, and we manage our budget well.
“If that is happening to our school budgets across Wrexham, we are decimating our education services.
“I understand how tight budgets are and I have spent every single day on the phone to ministers and the LGA (Local Government Association), lobbying for more money to go into local government.
“I would ask for a commitment that for any other funding that comes into this authority, we look to education because it’s dire what our schools are going to have to cope with.”
Members of the council’s ruling independent/Conservative coalition have already approved measures worth £12.1m to address next year’s deficit.
Further proposals were approved at today’s meeting, including a 50 per cent reduction in the budget for Wrexham’s next City of Culture bid, which has dropped from £500,000 to £250,000.
It takes the total value of measures identified up to £13.8m, leaving a gap of £8.8m left to plug.
Further proposals are due to be brought before the executive board later this month.
Cllr Phil Wynn, Wrexham’s lead member for education, said all councillors were concerned over how budget cuts would impact schools and pledged to provide as much support as possible.
He said: “If there is any extra money that is coming into the system that isn’t earmarked for a particular purpose by Welsh Government then I’d like to think that we can help our schools out further.
“As we know, there’s just not enough money in the system and Conwy cut their school budgets by five per cent last year. It’s not pleasant and things will have to give.”
Council leader Mark Pritchard said the authority was facing difficult decisions as it looks to balance its budget.
He said: “This report details an extremely challenging economic outlook for local government.
“Rising costs, pay demands and pressures continue to outstrip funding and this is going to continue into next year and into the future unless there is a radical change in the amount of public funding available to all councils across Wales.”
Executive board members unanimously approved the latest raft of saving measures at the end of the debate.
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