Are British classrooms the next victim of the energy crisis?

The government has been urged to offer councils additional funding to face these “unforeseen pressures” caused by the skyrocketing energy bills

Pathway to COP26 report

Leaders of local authorities in the northeast have sent a letter to Rishi Sunak and Schools Ministers asking for a bailout amid the soaring energy costs that could hit schools across the region.

Northumberland County Council warns schools could face a 48% increase in gas bills and 26% in their payments for electricity.

The local authority, which is part of a regional purchasing partnership on key contracts, including energy, said: “Whilst we have been prudent in our procurement arrangements, we are not insulated from the spike in energy prices and this will lead to in-year cost pressures.

“We must not allow these challenges to impact on education and the wider public services our communities rely on.”

Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “Our schools are hugely important and while I am sure that government share my concerns around the increased energy costs that each school is likely to face, I have written to the Schools Minister and to the Chancellor seeking their support for additional resources.”

A Northumberland County Council spokesperson told ELN: “As a matter of course we continue to advise and work with our schools on sensible steps to ensure energy efficiency. However, current estimates suggest our schools could face increases of approximately 48% for gas and 26% for electricity this winter, far outweighing any short-term energy-saving measures.

“We have now written to the government to highlight our growing concerns on the impact of these rising energy costs on public services and in particular, our schools.

“We have sought assurances that the government will make additional funding available to councils and schools to meet these unforeseen pressures and maintain education and other vital services to communities.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We’re investing an extra £2.6 billion in schools in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20. Schools experiencing financial issues can access a range of schools resource management tools and, in serious circumstances additional funding or advances from local authorities or the ESFA.

“We have started to provide carbon dioxide monitors to state-funded education settings, including early years, schools and further education providers, supporting staff to balance good ventilation with keeping classrooms at a comfortable temperature.”

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast