ASCL comment on Labour claim that school energy bills doubled last year

Hayley Dunn, Business Leadership Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on a Labour press release claiming that children’s learning and opportunities are being put at risk by rising energy prices.
Labour is certainly right to throw the spotlight on how energy costs spiralling upwards will further squeeze school and college budgets which have been under significant and continual pressure for many years. We remain concerned at the impact of rising energy costs on budgets already bearing a wide range of cost pressures caused by general inflation and unfunded pay awards.

“Education leaders are used to having to make difficult decisions on spending in order to remain financially stable. That was happening well before the current energy crisis and the grave state of the gas and electricity markets will be creating greater uncertainty.

“The Department for Education has thus far shown a flagrant disregard for the genuine concerns school and college business leaders have about the significant price rises they are facing, downplaying energy costs as a small part of overall budgets. They may have been in the past but some schools and colleges are reporting bills that have doubled in recent months, with the very real prospect of them increasing further in the near future.

“The government needs to recognise the seriousness of this issue and help relieve the financial pressure on schools and colleges by immediately doing more to help them meet the mounting costs of keeping classrooms lit and warm. Ignoring the problem will inevitably result in leaders having to cut spending in other areas of their budgets, with real consequences on the education children and young people receive.”