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Cash reserves will be well spent, says education chief

PUBLISHED: 16:33 20 February 2009 | UPDATED: 15:57 07 September 2010

I want to correct misleading comments in last week s front page article (Schools told to return millions, H&H February 12) about the claw back of excess reserves from schools. It is entirely incorrect to suggest that the council is taking back cash that

I want to correct misleading comments in last week's front page article (Schools told to return millions, H&H February 12) about the claw back of excess reserves from schools. It is entirely incorrect to suggest that the council is taking back cash that has already been allocated to education projects or that it will use the money to afford a council tax freeze.

The council is implementing a government requirement, called the Balance Control Scheme, that cash schools hold in reserve should not be excessive and where significant reserves are held (over five per cent for a secondary or eight per cent for a primary) that they are for proper purposes, as authorised by the school's governing body.

The total amount involved is around £1m (not the £7m quoted in the article) and no cash has been taken to date. It was introduced by the Government as it wanted to ensure that children at schools today benefit from today's funding, rather than allowing schools to build up large reserves which will not be used until much further in the future.

This Balance Control Scheme came into effect in March 2008. We consulted with our schools during 2007 and organised a trial run to help them gain experience of what the new system requires.

Far from clawing back cash for seemingly unidentified council use, as implied by your article, any monies will be reinvested into our schools, thereby benefiting children currently in Camden schools. It has absolutely nothing to do with the setting of the council tax.

I understand that some schools disagree with the new system, but there are also many others which accept the broad premise behind this Government scheme. In any case, Camden doesn't have an option but to carry this out. I have asked officers to look again at the process we have followed, but the council did inform our schools as soon as the legislation was brought in and gave them a trial run.

There is an appeals process which will be heard by fellow Camden governors and headteachers before any money is deducted from individual schools. I would like to reiterate that any reserves that schools are asked to give up will be used to benefit schools as a whole and cannot be used for general council expenditure.

Cllr Andrew Mennear

Executive Member for Schools, Camden Council

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