Additional government funding for the county’s schools has been welcomed by Iain Gray MSP, but he is angry that SNP Minsters have given with one hand, while taking away with the other.
Local schools are sharing £1.5 million from the Scottish Government Pupil Equity Funding to help tackle the education attainment gap, a policy pioneered by Mr Gray and Scottish Labour as the Fair Start Fund during last year’s Holyrood election.
However, at the same time as allocating this ‘new’ funding, which will go direct to schools, the SNP Government’s budget deal with the Greens is also cutting £4.5 million from funding for East Lothian Council.
Commenting on the funding, Iain Gray MSP said:
“I welcome the fact that schools in East Lothian are finally going to receive this attainment funding to support pupils who need extra help because it’s exactly what I have been calling for over the last few years.
“However, other local authorities across Scotland have been receiving this support over the last couple of years, so it’s a great shame that SNP Ministers have once again put East Lothian at the back of the queue for funding.
“The other big problem with this funding is that the SNP’s sums simply don’t add up. Ministers say they are giving schools new resources but it comes at the same time as they are cutting £4.5 million from East Lothian Council’s budget, leaving a shortfall of some £3 million.
“We would have paid for this additional support by asking the richest one per cent to pay a little more with a 50p top rate of tax. Instead, the SNP is taking it by perversely cutting millions from East Lothian Council’s budget, and £170m from councils across Scotland, for the year ahead.
“Ministers cannot cut the gap between the richest and the rest while they slash millions from Scotland’s local education budgets.”
Cllr Shamin Akhtar, Labour’s education lead on the Council, added:
“The underlying concept of this pupil equity funding is important and welcome. However, it should be additional money, rather than funding to help plug the gaps created by SNP cuts.
“We have done everything possible to protect local school budgets over the last five years. Despite the £4.5 million cut we are facing for the year ahead and recent calls from former SNP council leader Dave Berry to slash £1 million from some of the council’s education services, we will continue to prioritise protecting our schools.”