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Approved Schools (Costs)

Volume 526: debated on Tuesday 6 April 1954

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19.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the main reasons for the increase from 54s. to 66s. in the weekly contribution payable by education authorities in respect of a child or young person sent to an approved school.

The cost of the schools is shared equally between the education authorities and the Exchequer. After the rate of the authority contribution for 1953–54 had been fixed, the numbers in the schools fell, but expenditure on staff and overheads did not fall correspondingly, and the contributions from education authorities, which are based on the numbers of pupils, were not sufficient to meet half the cost. The rate of contribution for 1954–55 has been fixed to recoup the Exchequer in part for the larger share it had to bear in 1953–54 and to take account of the higher cost per head which results from the smaller numbers in the schools and from increases in salaries and wages.

That means, of course that between the Government and the local authorities it is costing £6 12s. a week to keep one child in an approved school. If the number of pupils has fallen, why are the Government not taking steps to reorganise the schools and to reduce the number?

I think the figure which the hon. Gentleman gives is about right, although I should like to check it.

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland the estimated weekly cost of maintaining a child hi an approved school for the year 1954–55; and what percentage increase this shows over 1954–53.

The estimated weekly cost for 1954–55 is £6 10s. 5d., which represents an increase of 23·6 per cent, over the figure for 1952–53.

Is not this a shocking example of how the Government fail to control expenditure, and to stop this rise in costs?

It is easily explained. There are two reasons: (1) the number of children attending the schools has fallen, and (2) there has been a rise in salaries. To neither of them, I think, can the hon. Gentleman raise objections.