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Schools 'missing out on funding'

PUBLISHED: 10:34 14 June 2010 | UPDATED: 09:48 01 August 2010

SCHOOL pupils in Suffolk and Essex are being short-changed as government cash is concentrated on children in inner cities and the north of England, it was claimed last night.

SCHOOL pupils in Suffolk and Essex are being short-changed as government cash is concentrated on children in inner cities and the north of England, it was claimed last night.

Suffolk, which receives one of the lowest amounts per pupil at £4,470, was described by the councillor responsible for schools in the county as “the poor relation” and is calling on the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat government to make the funding fairer.

The county's per pupil total compares with £4,560 for Essex, £4,450 for Norfolk and £4,620 for Hertfordshire.

Heading the league table are the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets (£7,450) and Hackney (£7,470). Even the affluent areas of Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea are paid about £3,000 per pupil more than Essex and Suffolk.

Graham Newman, Suffolk's portfolio holder for education and young people, said Suffolk was among a group of county councils which came bottom in the distribution of funding because of deprivation indices calculated in Whitehall.

“Not only do we have areas of deprivation, the fact that we receive less money than other areas means that in Suffolk there is aspiration deprivation because pupils do not have the same level of support,” said Mr Newman.

“However, Suffolk is among the top quartile of authorities in the percentage of the grant it passes on to schools - 91.6pc for 2009/10.

“We do everything we can to maximise the number of teachers and assistants in classrooms. We continue to lobby for additional central funding and look forward to seeing the detail of the new coalition government's policy of introducing a pupil premium.”

Suffolk's MPs are to meet the county council's cabinet in a fortnight to discuss the priority for funding.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Suffolk Central and Ipswich North, said fair funding for the county would be the main priority of the county's MPs in the current parliament. “Deprivation doesn't just occur in urban areas,” he said. “Ipswich and Lowestoft have their own share of problems and rural poverty is acute in parts of the shire counties.”

Essex County Council took a different view. A spokesman said: “The Department for Education provides all local authorities with a set amount which is worked out using a mathematical formula. This method has been used to work out the funding allocation since 2008.

“The reason behind Essex receiving a lower amount of funding than some other authorities in the country is because our level of social deprivation is lower.”

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