Schools in Hertfordshire will miss out on £1.9 million of vital funding because of the way central government has decided to calculate money it allocates for the most disadvantaged children. Over 1,500 children are hit by the funding changes, most of them of primary school age.

Data revealed by a Freedom of Information Act request to Hertfordshire County Council shows that 1,518 pupils began claiming Free School Meals between October 2020 and January 2021. But central government excluded the 1,500 making new claims for free school meals after October 2020 when calculating the Pupil Premium Grant for 2021-22.

The Pupil Premium Grant — extra school funding designed to help the most disadvantaged children — will not be applied to the 1,500 new claimants of Free School Meals after October 2020. This means Hertfordshire schools are being short-changed by £1.9 million this financial year alone.

Judi Billing, Leader of the Labour Group on Hertfordshire County Council, said:

“It’s absolutely appalling that government is prepared to use such underhand tactics to deprive Hertfordshire and our most deprived families of funding that they desperately need. I hope that the Tory administration is fighting this with all its might, and that after May 6th we have a new administration committed to making a real difference.”

Cameron Brady-Turner, Labour council candidate for Berkhamsted, said:

“Fiddling the dates to avoid funding support for disadvantaged children during a pandemic is nothing short of shameful.

While cronies with links to the Conservative Party have been sprayed with public money, this news will be a real kick in the teeth for the many families who have struggled during this crisis.

Berkhamsted residents deserve a councillor who will stand up for local schools, not roll over to Westminster.”

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