90% of English schools on the verge of bankruptcy – The Observer
Government expected to make further spending cuts and blames crisis on ‘international events’
Schools in England are struggling to pay their electricity and heating bills, and 90% of them will run out of money next year, the Observer claimed on Saturday.
With the cost of living crisis already forcing some school children to go hungry, the government plans to cut spending across all departments.
The National Association of Headteachers told the newspaper that 50% of their schools will be in deficit this year, with that figure rising to 90% by next September.
Some schools’ electricity and heating bills have risen from £26,000 a year to £89,000 ($100,609), the report says. In addition to this increase, schools must fund a 5% salary increase for teachers announced this summer.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce spending cuts across all departments, including education, at the end of the month.
Several school trusts told the newspaper they were dipping into their cash reserves to keep their buildings heated and their teachers paid. However, “There comes a time when we simply run out of money,” said Garry Ratcliffe, whose trust runs three primary schools in Kent.
Additionally, Ratcliffe said he has seen an increase in the number of families unable to pay their own bills or feed their children. “Families who have never needed help before come to us,” he said. « There is a great sense of shame for the father who works all the hours he can but still has to go to school and ask for help. »
A survey published last week by Chefs in Schools found that 83% of teachers said children came to school hungry because their parents could not afford to eat. Almost a quarter said children in their schools skipped lunch « because of poverty ».
Energy costs and inflation – which had been skyrocketing since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic – have soared since the UK decided to cut itself off from Russian fossil fuels. Outgoing Prime Minister Liz Truss exacerbated the economic crisis with a disastrous ‘mini budget’ last month that sent the pound plummeting and tried to blame the Russian president for Britain’s economic woes Vladimir Poutine.
In response to The Observer’s latest report, a spokesperson for the Department of Education took a similar approach, accusing the « cost pressure » on schools on « international events » and promising to offset the costs through an energy relief program.