Shropshire children to miss out on £300,000 funding
Shropshire schoolchildren will lose out on £300,000 of funding under new plans for an "apprenticeship levy" on large employers, it has been claimed.
Shropshire Councillor Hannah Fraser, who represents Shrewsbury's Abbey ward, says the rules will unfairly penalise state schools because they come under council responsibility, as opposed to most academies, which will be exempt.
The apprenticeship levy, introduced by former chancellor George Osborne, means all companies or local authorities with more than 250 employees or a wage bill of more than £3 million will have to use 0.5 per cent of their wage spending on apprenticeships.
Although most schools have a budget of well below £3 million for wages, because their employees are counted as council staff they will also be affected by the levy – taking up around £296,000 of Shropshire's £60 million wage bill for local authority maintained schools.
Councillor Fraser is submitting a motion to be considered at this month's meeting of full council, calling for the authority to lobby Government for a re-think on the plans.
She said: "Most schools do not have budgets of that size but if they are budgeted in with the local authority wage bills then they do come under it.
"It should not be that the already hard pressed schools budget should be raided to fund apprenticeships.
"I am fully supportive of apprenticeships but I do not think we should be using education money to pay for them.
"The other aspect is that academies and free schools are not subject to this so you have some children whose budgets will be raided and others who won't. It just seems unfair."
A Shropshire Council report says that when the detail of the policy is known it will work with schools to establish the contribution each maintained school should make to the public sector target.
It will then work out what the impact is on individual school budgets of paying a contribution to the levy.
Councillor Fraser's motion calls for schools to be exempt from the policy and states: "This authority considers that public funding for education should not be diverted to supporting the apprenticeship levy, and that schools should be exempt from the scheme.
"This council resolves to write to the relevant government minister and our Shropshire MPs to express our concern regarding the proposals, and make the case for schools to be exempt from the apprenticeship levy."
Councillors will vote on the motion at the next full council meeting on December 15,
Shropshire Council spends around £151 million a year on wages and says the changes mean that more than two per cent of its workforce will be apprentices within the next four years.