'Last week, the Department for Education announced that it will give Croydon Council £63.2 million pounds over the next two years to fund new school places.
With the borough’s population rising rapidly, this is really welcome news. There’s been an increase of nearly 10% in the demand for reception places in the last two years and projections suggest that between 2013 and 2015 Croydon will need at least 550 more permanent school places.
I’ve been working hard behind the scenes to get the formula that allocates funding between local councils across the country changed so that it better reflects our needs and I’m delighted that this work has paid off. Not only are we getting significantly more than we have in the last two years, we are getting more than any other council in the country.
They say you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but there are some people you can never please. I see from The Advertiser's coverage that Croydon Labour Party have said that £63.2 million is not enough, that the Government should meet the cost of all the new school places required. Never mind the fact that when it comes to Council services there is a long-established principle that the Government provides some help but expects the Council to provide some money too. Nor the fact that despite the cuts it is making in other areas, this Government has increased capital spending compared with what Labour were planning (on the grounds that building new schools, roads etc should stimulate growth). Nor the fact that this Government is spending more during a period of austerity on providing new school places than Labour did during the last Parliament. Nor the fact that Croydon has been given more money than any other council in the country. Sometimes you just can’t win.
The truth is that this is not only good news for parents of young children who will want to be able to send their child to a local school, it is also good news for other services - the Council had been faced with the prospect of spending nearly all its capital budget on providing new school places and, now that it is getting more funding than it had expected from the Government, it should have a bit more for other priorities like resurfacing our roads or renovating the Fairfield Halls.
Now we need to get the Government to change the formula that allocates revenue funding to councils!'