Education set to be hit by county cuts

EDUCATION in West Sussex is likely to be hit by cuts of £2m, for the remainder of the financial year. These, along with another £1m achieved through efficiency savings and £400,000 from a recruitment freeze, had been outlined by the county council prior to a meeting of its West Sussex Public Service Board on Friday last week.

The meeting was held behind closed doors and at the time of the West Sussex Gazette going to press yesterday, the final outcome of the meeting had not been revealed.

A county council spokesman said: "All partners have to be told first before information can be released."

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Savings of 1.1m had been earmarked before the meeting, to be made within the areas of Primary and Secondary strategies, advanced skills teachers and school development grants. This hits budgets which support schools at risk of poor performance and encourage collaborative working between schools to share best pratice.

The cuts would prompt

reprioritisation, focusing on schools at highest risk of failure, and on provision of courses for young people with the greatest risk of underachievement.

Another 0.7m cut will affect the Schools Forum and Sure Start, resulting in less spending on school support activities, early education and health and family support.

A further 0.2m was earmarked to go from grants supporting projects to improve school support for children with special or additional education needs.

The county council last week announced that an initial stage of spending reductions had to be made in the current financial year following the 1.1b cut in Government grant to local government.

Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: "We recognise the Government has had to act urgently this year to start to bring the deficit under control. As part of that, West Sussex has had to take the reduction in grants from various funding streams totalling 12.7m.

She said that the Cabinet had asked officers to try to safeguard the ambitious programme of road improvements, undertaken to resolve problems from winter, even though the Government had taken 4million from the county highways grant.

Removal of ring fencing from some grants has led to no major reductions in highways spending for the remainder of this year.