A GOVERNMENT U-turn on school revenue balances has been welcomed locally and nationally.
Jim Knight, the minister for Schools and Learners announced this week that plans to claw back surpluses would be put on hold for further discussions and monitoring.
Mr Knight said it was never proposed that the 5% surplus should come back to Whitehall or damage school’s financial independence.
But he said he recognised school’s concerns during the consultation and the department would continue to monitor the overall level of surplus balances during the forthcoming spending review.
If the levels reported did not show a significant reduction he would take further action.
Clr Kath Pinnock, leader of the Kirklees Liberal Democrats severely criticised the move, which she said could lead to a £780,000 tax on local schools.
And she added that under the new plans schools would be forced to return cash amounts.
“This is crazy; schools need to be able to budget securely,” she said.
“Any clawback of funds will encourage schools to spend their money as quickly as they can, to avoid any chance of budgets being raided again in future.
“The plan penalises schools who are either saving funds for a big capital project or who have built up a surplus in anticipation of increased costs in future years.
Teaching union the NAHT said it was reassuring that the Government had shown willingness to listen to representations from the education community on the issue.
Mick Brookes, general secretary said:
“We too believe that every penny of school funding must be spent on the education of children and young people, while keeping a prudent sum to cover for unexpected events.
“This is victory for common sense.”