Council has rethink over using pupil cash to pay for existing services

Motherwell Civic Centre
Motherwell Civic Centre

North Lanarkshire Council has abandoned plans to use just over £1.2m from the Pupil Equity Fund (PEF) to prop up existing services.

In its annual budget the council approved using £1.1m from PEF to pay for school support functions, such as classroom assistants, and another £133,000 to provide breakfast clubs.

The SNP opposition argued all the £8.8m PEF which the Scottish Government had earmarked for North Lanarkshire should be used to close the attainment gap.

However, Labour hit back claiming so much of its budget had been cut it had no option but to use some of the PEF for existing services.

Ultimately though with the threat of the Scottish Government refusing to release the PEF to the council it has agreed to find the funding elsewhere.

Council’s chief executive Paul Jukes said: “We’ve been in discussion with the Scottish Government about the use of the Pupil Equity Fund.

“To be clear, our proposals did not represent top-slicing of any kind. However, given head teachers require certainty about the money available to them now, we have taken a pragmatic approach to ensure pupils are not disadvantaged.”

Jamie Hepburn MSP welcomed the council’s ‘rethink’ and the PEF has been released.

He said: “I’m glad the council has had a rethink on these plans and recognise that 100 per cent of the Pupil Equity Fund allocated to schools in North Lanarkshire must be used to give every child, irrespective of their background, the opportunity to succeed.”