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‘Let academies borrow money’ says Fareham MP Mark Hoban
ACADEMY schools should be allowed to borrow money from banks to create badlyneeded extra places, a Hampshire MP says.
And he pointed to the struggles of one academy in Fareham – Cams Hill – which was desperate to grow, but was unable to do so.
Mr Hoban – dismissed as housing minister last week – said the secondary school in Shearwater Avenue was able to borrow money a few years ago to build a new sports hall.
But when it attempted to repeat the tactic – in order to build an extension to cater for extra pupils – the Government refused to give permission.
The Fareham MP said: “Cams Hill would like to expand but can’t at the moment – but it would so if it could borrow money.”
Urging the Chancellor to act, Mr Hoban said: “We have made it easier for schools to increase pupil numbers to meet parental demand but this requires them to have spare classrooms.
“If schools are already at capacity they can bid for money from the Education Funding Agency but, if they are unsuccessful, then parental choice can’t be satisfied.
“Academies could try to fund expansion themselves by borrowing but Treasury rules prohibit this as it would count as part of Government debt.”
Arguing that allowing every academy to borrow £500,000 a year would add just 1.4 per cent to overall borrowing Mr Hoban added: “Surely it is time to lift this barrier to parental choice?
Isn’t it time that academies that have so many freedoms already have the freedom to borrow so more parents can choose the right school for their children?”
There are 16 academy schools in Southampton – independent of the local authority – and about 40 across Hampshire.
The county has been pinpointed as an area facing a looming shortage of school places and has few ‘free schools’ – the Government’s preferred route for coping with extra pupils.
Mr Hoban made the call on the conservativehome website.
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