Schools: Energy

Department for Education written question – answered on 29th September 2022.

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Photo of Bim Afolami Bim Afolami Conservative, Hitchin and Harpenden

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether the Government is planning to take steps to support schools in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency with their energy bills over the coming winter.

Photo of Jonathan Gullis Jonathan Gullis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Significant cash increases to school funding will help schools to manage these higher costs. Overall, core schools funding (including funding for both mainstream schools and high needs) is increasing by £4 billion in 2022/23 compared to the previous year.

Schools in Hitchin and Harpenden are attracting £81.6 million in total this year, a 4% cash increase. This reflects 3% more per pupil in their pupil-led funding compared to 2021/22. Schools’ actual allocations in 2022/23 will be based on local authorities’ local funding formulae.

On top of this funding through the National Funding Formula, schools in Hitchin and Harpenden are seeing £2.4 million through the Schools Supplementary Grant.

Schools will also benefit from the Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which will run until at least the 31 March 2023. This will reduce how much schools need to spend on their energy, and give schools greater certainty over their budgets over the winter months.

Any school which has signed a fixed energy contract since April 2022 will be eligible for support if, at the time they signed their contact, wholesale prices for the next 6 months were expected to be higher than the Government supported price of £211/MWh for electricity, and £75/MWh for gas.

For example, a school which uses 10 MWh of electricity and 22 MWh of gas a month and signed a fixed contract giving them a current monthly energy bill of about £10,000, would receive support based on the difference between expected wholesale prices when they signed their contract and the Government supported price. For a contract signed in July 2022, this could be worth £240/MWh for electricity and £70/MWh for gas, meaning the school receives a discount of £4,000 per month, reducing their original bill by 40%.

Support will also be available to schools on variable, deemed and other contracts.

There will be a review in 3 months time to determine how the scheme should best be targeted beyond this period to focus support on vulnerable sectors.

The details of the scheme can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-bill-relief-scheme-help-for-businesses-and-other-non-domestic-customers.

More broadly, the Department allocates annual capital funding to improve the condition of school buildings, including through improving energy efficiency. The Department has allocated over £13 billion in condition funding since 2015, including £1.8 billion this financial year. In addition, the School Rebuilding Programme will transform 500 schools over the next decade, with all new buildings delivered through the programme designed to be net zero carbon in operation. Schools can also access funding specifically for carbon reduction and energy efficiency measures through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Fund.

Every school’s circumstances are different, and where schools are in serious financial difficulty, they should contact their local authority or the Education and Skills Funding Agency.

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