Wirral Council receives extra £725,000 of education funding (but Lyndale is still closing)
I do keep an eye on Wirral Council press releases (although I rarely write stories based on them as sometimes the facts in them are untrue) and their latest one is about receiving an extra £725,000 of funding for schools.
I’m half expecting a Labour councillor to pop up and say how terrible this is, how it’s all the government’s fault and that this is the reason that schools like Lyndale School have to shut.
However, this story is more complicated than that and the issue has been discussed at at least one meeting of the Birkenhead Constituency Committee.
Basically the gist of the story is this. Those families on means tested benefits, if they have children can ask the school for free school meals. If they do so, then Wirral Council receives extra money through the Pupil Premium which then results in extra money for the school.
However there is a stigma attached to parents telling a school that their family is on means tested benefits, so many parents don’t. Indeed the parents probably worry about the stigma of free school meals causing embarrassment to their child or children too.
I remember one embarrassing incident from my childhood when I was at a new primary school (I was around ten years old). I went to pay for my school meal at the till but one of my friends didn’t. I ran after them and pointed out they’d forgotten to pay, they turned bright red and explained that they received free school meals because their parents were on means tested benefits. Yes twenty-five years later I still remember!
So Wirral Council has used the housing benefit and council tax information it has instead of relying on parents supplying this information to the school.
As a result Wirral Council will receive an extra £725,000 this year (if you remember Lyndale was being shut for a projected shortfall of ~£190,000).
So you see once again, this mantra of "it’s all the government’s fault" that the Labour administration on Wirral Council repeat again and again turns out to be somewhat of a smokescreen. Labour are in charge of Wirral Council so they are accountable to the public.
Wirral could’ve been doing the above for years and no doubt lost out on millions of education funding over the years as a result. I wonder if this change would never have happened if it hadn’t been for the Rt Hon Frank Field MP behind the scenes persuading the councillors and officers at Wirral Council to be sensible? Indeed the Rt Hon Frank Field MP, rather frustrated by the arcane bureaucracy at Wirral Council recently stated at a public meeting that it was easier to secure peace in Syria than to get Wirral Council to circulate minutes of a public meeting quickly.
This is of course one of the advantages to filming a meeting as you don’t have to wait months for the minutes.
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