England & Wales

Will councils absorb budgets for schools and older people?


There have been a couple of stories in the past week warning that councils will absorb money meant for schools and old people into other budgets. It sounds plausible but, in fact, it’s extremely unlikely.

Old people first. In The Times Age Concern have warned that the £2 billion extra funding for adult social care will be absorbed by councils that need to make big savings in other areas. This ignores the fact that council spending on adult social care already outstrips funding from central government. In 2006-07, for instance, government funding rose by 1.5 per cent while council spending increased by 4.5 per cent. This money is badly needed so will surely end up where it’s intended.

Now for the youngsters. The TES has warned that councils will use the protected schools budget to cushion reductions in other areas of expenditure. This ignores the fact that the vast majority of money for schools is ring-fenced. Councils do have access to a 10 per cent top slice of this budget but that hardly amounts to untold riches. Indeed this pot of money will only get smaller as academies and free schools aren’t required to make a contribution to this pooled budget.