Schools could be hit by spiralling energy costs

Schools may need to factor in the rising costs of energy before switching on the heating later this year.

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At a meeting of Powys County Council’s audit and governance committee, a presentation on rising energy costs, and supply chain issues was given by the authority's head of finance, Jane Thomas.

She told the committee how inflation and cost of living increases are affecting the counci, and what it is trying to do to alleviate the pressures.

Committee vice chairman and lay member John Brautigam said: “Come September/October schools will need to turn on their heating.

“At the current rate of progress, the budgets they have submitted are going to be totally insufficient.

“What special arrangements have been made for that particular sector?”

Ms Thomas told the committee that schools had been given more money from the Welsh Government in recent local authority financial settlements.

The council’s finance teams that work with schools would “make sure” that the schools understand this and “draw on some of that” to manage some of the costs.

“We’ll be keeping them updated at every point as to when we are likely to see these prices start to increase," she said.

“We do buy some of our energy in advance through national procurement frameworks so it’s not going to impact on us immediately.

“We know there will definitely be an impact from April 2023.

“It is about making sure we are passing on the information on at every point. and supporting them to do that as we start to look at next year’s budget plans and plans into the future.”

Powys received an extra £18.3 million in the Welsh Government financial settlement for local authorities this year,

Of this extra cash, £5 million has been passed on to education in the county.

Each school sends its own budget to the council, and most of the calculations by headteachers would have been done earlier this year before the full effect of the cost-of-living crisis emerged.

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