This month, we kick off with the news of reports that nine out of ten schools in England will have run out of money by the next school year, as the enormous burden of increased energy bills takes its toll.
Data from the National Association of Head Teachers; results of a survey of its members are due later this month, shows that 50 per cent of Heads say their school will be in deficit this year, with almost all expecting to be in the red by next September, when their reserve runs out.
This comes as Jeremy Hunt has made clear that all departments, including education, will be expected to make cuts as part of the government’s debt reduction plan.
Headteachers and academy leaders are warning that further spending cuts will push many schools and academy trusts over the cliff, and result in most schools having to lose essential teaching and support staff.
The Rev Steve Chalke, whose Oasis foundation runs 52 academies in England, said: “At this burn rate, in under three years we will be bankrupt. No one is in a position to keep going for very long eating their reserves.”
Spending cuts will push many schools and academy trusts over the cliff – says NAHT
Chalke said electricity and gas costs for schools in his chain had rocketed from £26,000 a year to £89,000, even with the six-month energy price cap.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We understand that schools are facing cost pressures due to international events driving up energy prices.” She added that as well as the energy relief scheme, schools would receive £53.8bn in core funding this year “which includes a cash increase of £4bn”.
Kevin Cox, our Managing Director, at Energys Group, commented: “Energys is an expert in energy efficiency in the education and wider public sectors. We are available to help immediately with a range of fast wins that will cut energy usage as soon as they are installed, dramatically helping schools manage these huge financial challenges.”
Supply at risk
The government has “war gamed” emergency plans to cope with energy blackouts lasting up to seven days in the event of a national power outage amid growing fears over security of supply this winter, says The Guardian.
The broadsheet has seen documents, marked “official sensitive”, which warn that in a “reasonable worst-case scenario” all sectors including transport, food and water supply, communications and energy could be “severely disrupted” for up to a week.
Whitehall officials are currently stress-testing Programme Yarrow, the confidential plan for coping in the event of a power outage. Programme Yarrow prepares for a situation where power is unavailable, without any pre-warning, to all premises without backup generators during winter.
It envisages that 60 per cent of electricity demand will be met “between day 2 and day 7” when households and businesses will be given “intermittent access” to rationed supply.
Energy Bill Relief Scheme kicks in for UK businesses
EDIE is reporting that government measures to combat spiralling energy costs across non-domestic sectors have now come into force, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) confirming that businesses could see costs slashed by more than half for the next six months.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) claims that the government has introduced a new support price of £211 per MWh for electricity, compared to a projected price of £600 per MWh and £75 per MWh for gas compared to a projected winter price of £180 per Mwh.
The new pricing, which will be applied in pence per kilowatt hour (p/kWh), is available to all non-domestic energy contracts, including businesses, voluntary sector organisations, such as charities and public sector organisations such as schools, hospitals and care homes.
The changes were due to come into effect on 1 October, but savings applied to October bills are usually received in November, so businesses will now be able to receive the benefits.
Kevin Cox commented: “I am delighted to see support for schools, hospitals, care home and other public sector organisations emerging. These are the backbone of our society and it is essential they can continue their vital work.”