DfEE rules councils ineligible for retrospective funding

25 Nov 99
Councils have accused the government of penalising them for innovation by denying them cash for policies which are later recommended and funded by the government.

26 November 1999

Funding anomalies have been highlighted by the London Borough of Newham, one of 40 councils selected by the government for additional money to pay for extra staff in reception classes.

The 40 authorities were selected for the funds because they ranked highest on the government's Index of Local Deprivation. But Newham is angry because it had already found money for a small number of classroom assistants. Newham, along with a number of other authorities, claims it is being denied 'substantial' funds because the Department for Education and Employment will not recognise figures before January 1999.

A letter from education minister Margaret Hodge said: 'My officials and I do recognise that the difficulties facing inner-city local authorities, such are yours, are immense and Newham Local Education Authority is to be congratulated on its efforts to further government policies and initiatives.'

However, the DfEE, despite apologising for the misunderstanding, insists 'the funding is to assist with the extra cost of supplying additional staff in reception classes and should not be used to offset the 1999/2000 recruitment and salary costs of staff that are already in post at the time the grant is given'.

Newham's education chair, Graham Lane, said: 'This is gobbledegook. Because we had the foresight to have these people in place already, we are now not eligible for money to pay for them. They are doing us out of money we need.'

A DfEE spokeswoman said the department 'was well aware of this particular case'. She added: 'We have to have a cut-off point, otherwise every government initiative involving extra funds could be backdated for years. It is unfortunate that Newham and some other authorities will miss out on this.'


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