Magazine article Public Finance

Councils Can Claw Back School Surpluses Using New Audit Tool

Magazine article Public Finance

Councils Can Claw Back School Surpluses Using New Audit Tool

Article excerpt

Schools sitting on large budget surpluses could have their funds clawed back by councils following moves to make school accounts more transparent.

An Audit Commission web tool, launched on March 21, allows local education authorities to benchmark their performance against their neighbours and identify schools holding on to excessive surplus revenue.

Tim Priestley, senior manager at the Audit Commission, told Public Finance the tool would help councils put pressure on schools deemed to be 'outliers'.

'A number of authorities are already recycling or clawing back funds. Perhaps authorities that haven't gone down that route will be encouraged to do so,' he said.

Budget surpluses over 5% for secondary schools and 8% for primaries are regarded as excessive. Priestley said that, although there were benefits in saving up for long-term projects, the majority of schools' money needed to be spent on pupils.

The web tool was developed to combat the confusion surrounding how and where school money is allocated. …

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