Education Funding in Penarth

Parents received a letter from the Vale Council within the last month about school funding. The Vale claimed that schools across the authority are being chronically underfunded and laying the blame squarely at the door of the Welsh Government. The Vale Council Leadership has never approached me on this issue before sending out a highly unusual letter to parents.

I am incredibly disappointed with the leadership of the Vale council. This is an obvious exercise in blame shifting. There are two particular aspects to this. One is the challenge for local government, making choices about their own resources. This includes making choices about how much money they choose to spend on schools. The second is more political. The Vale of Glamorgan council is now led by a Conservative administration. The Conservative party has spent three successive general elections campaigning for a policy of UK wide austerity. The inevitable consequence of Conservative choices to impose austerity across the UK is that there is less money for public services. There is a real squeeze on every single public service. It is simply not acceptable for elected representatives who have campaigned for austerity in three successive general elections to then complain about the inevitable consequences of austerity. More than that it is completely unacceptable for those same people to claim that anybody else is responsible for their choice.

What constituents may not be aware of is that the Vale council has had responses from both the Education Secretary and the Local Government Secretary. As a matter of fact the Vale is not the lowest funded authority when it comes to the school settlement. In the core settlement for schools, the Vale are ahead of Carmarthenshire, Newport, Flintshire, Swansea, Newport and Caerphilly. Local Government have had the opportunity to review the funding formula with the Welsh Government, however they have chosen not to do so. The Welsh Government cannot be held responsible for the local authority family not agreeing to review the way that funding formulas work. What the Leader of the Vale did not say is that he has not raised this issue with the Education Secretary of the Local Government Secretary. He chose instead to write to parents.

It is also incredibly disappointing that the Vale Council have not sought to bid for grants available for schools funding that was set out clearly in the Education Secretary’s response. I am disappointed that my constituents have not been told the full truth about these matters by the Vale administration. I recognise this is a hugely emotive issue. If anyone wants to get in touch with me about these or any other issues I will be happy to respond.