Schools in England paying an estimated £1bn a year for energy, says Labour

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Schools face mounting budgetary pressures from inflation (PA) (PA Archive)
Schools face mounting budgetary pressures from inflation (PA) (PA Archive)

Schools in England could be paying an estimated £1 billion a year in energy bills, taking money away from pupils’ learning, Labour has warned.

The party said children’s futures are being put at risk, citing Government data which shows the cost of energy to state schools after a projected increase of 93% at the end of 2021.

On average, secondary schools are now estimated to be spending more than £161,000 on energy while primaries are spending around £32,000, according to data compiled by the House of Commons Library.

Schools are not covered by the energy price cap, which only applies to domestic customers.

This comes as schools also face mounting budgetary pressures from inflation driving up the price of food and school stationery.

Shadow schools minister Stephen Morgan called on Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi to form “a proper plan” to tackle energy costs in schools.

He said: “Children have already faced huge disruption due to the Government’s chaotic handling of the pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis, made worse by Downing Street, is further squeezing school budgets.

“Ministers must get a grip and urgently work with schools to ensure rising costs do not lead to children missing out on further opportunities.

“Labour is calling on the Government to prioritise children’s learning and development post-pandemic, with breakfast and after-school clubs, tutoring and mental health support.

“The Education Secretary must match this ambition with a proper plan to secure children’s futures.”

The Department for Education (DfE) has been contacted for comment.