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Norfolk needs to fill £74m school funding gap

PUBLISHED: 17:01 03 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:01 03 January 2020

Norfolk County Council needs to spend almost £92m creating new school places in Greater Norwich to keep pace with growth in the district over the next decade. Photo: PA

Norfolk County Council needs to spend almost £92m creating new school places in Greater Norwich to keep pace with growth in the district over the next decade. Photo: PA

Norfolk county council is faced with plugging an almost £74m black hole in education funding - after a request for a greater share of developers’ cash was refused.

Cabinet member for children's services, John Fisher. Photo: Broadland District CouncilCabinet member for children's services, John Fisher. Photo: Broadland District Council

The council needs to spend almost £92m funding new school places in Greater Norwich to keep up with growth over the next ten years.

And a report put to the Greater Norwich Growth Board (GNGB) forecast a £73.8m gap between income from developers, known as the community infrastructure levy (CIL) and the amount needed.

The board - who allocate the funds from CIL - provide an annual £2m contribution towards education infrastructure in Greater Norwich, and is expected to continue this until at least 2025.

READ MORE: School places not at risk despite £74m funding shortfall, council insists

However, despite council bosses calling for a bigger chunk of CIL money to be freed up for school places, the request was turned down by the GNGB in November.

It comes just a day after the council described the scale of the shortfall as a "worst-case scenario", but documents have now confirmed it.

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A report published ahead of the council's cabinet meeting this month states: "Future funding needs for the schools proposed in the Greater Norwich area are likely to require a significantly larger amount of funding.

"The GNGB at their recent meeting on November 25, 2019, confirmed that the available CIL funding is unlikely to be sufficient to provide a greater contribution."

The vision for the county's new schools was laid out earlier this year and aims to keep pace with housing and demographic change.

The schools growth plan anticipates 22 new primary schools, costing £8m each and a new Norwich high school which could cost the council up to £26m.

READ MORE: This is where new schools are set to be built across Norfolk

The council has insisted it will meet the demand for all necessary school places across the county, despite a spokesperson describing the £73.8m shortfall as "the worst-case scenario" for CIL funding.

The levy on developers is just one of four funding streams for education, as the council also receives money for schools through S106 agreements (the precursor to CIL); via grants from central government; from the Department for Education (DfE); and through its own borrowing.

Proposals to plug the gap will be outlined at a future cabinet meeting, the report confirmed.

And John Fisher, cabinet member for children's services, said: "There are a number of ways we can find finance school building and expansions and we are confident that all the required school places can and will be realised in a timely manner using these different funding sources."


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