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Academy Schools

Volume 552: debated on Monday 29 October 2012

19. If he will take steps to prohibit local authorities from preventing schools from converting to academy status by requiring a 20% pensions fund surcharge for non-teaching staff. (124994)

Pension contribution rates for non-teaching staff are determined by local administering authority fund managers. In a joint letter in December 2011 my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and for Communities and Local Government made it clear that no academy should pay unjustifiably higher employer pension contributions than maintained schools in their area. The letter also made it clear that other options would be considered if high rates persisted.

Northumberland county council is blocking schools that wish to go to academy status. Will the Minister review the December 2011 evaluation of this problem and then meet with me and interested representatives from my constituency who wish to turn to academy status or are considering doing so?

I am concerned by what my hon. Friend says about his local authority blocking those schools that wish to go to academy status, and I can tell him that Department for Education officials are continuing to work on this issue with Department for Communities and Local Government officials. I would be delighted to meet him and others to discuss this matter. It would not be acceptable for local authorities to use this move to impede schools that wish to go to academy status.