LABOUR councillors in Monmouthshire are calling for a rethink over a plan to offer loans to schools with deficits.

A motion, submitted by Labour group leader councillor Dimitri Batrouni, which will be debated at a full council meeting this week, says the plan will see schools with more debt.

The proposal is aimed at allowing schools in deficit to be able to continue making investments to raise standards.

It will allow schools to borrow up to 10 per cent of their budget, which can be spread out over 10 years.

Deficit repayments would also be extended from three years to four under the plan.

A motion calls on the council to oppose the scheme proposed by the cabinet.

“The council believes that instead of saddling our schools and future generations with more debt, the cabinet should properly fund our schools by making a commitment to increase (at the very least) school budgets in line with inflation,” it says.

Cllr Batrouni said the Labour group is calling on the council “at the very least to guarantee inflation-level funding rises to ensure that our schools get the resources they need”.

“Over the last six years the council have cut local school budgets by £9.4 million,” Cllr Batrouni said.

“Many of our schools are now struggling with their finances, and now the council’s ‘big idea’ is to saddle them with more debt from a loan.

“The Labour councillors are totally opposed to the proposal.”

Three of four secondary schools in Monmouthshire saw their deficits more than double in the last financial year.

The number in deficit also rose from 15 to 17, with the overall balance rising from £234,000 to £434,000.

Councillor Richard John, cabinet member for children and young people, said the loan scheme will allow schools to continue making “important investments”.

“Offering a loan scheme to schools is not about increasing debt, but giving schools far greater flexibility to manage an existing deficit over a longer period of time while continuing to make important investments in literacy and numeracy,” Cllr John said.

“Despite being the lowest funded council in Wales and consistently receiving the worst settlement from the Welsh Government, Monmouthshire has continued to fully fund all teachers’ pay pressures and the substantial increases in their pension costs in every year of this administration.

“Our loan proposal was developed in discussion with our schools and some have already engaged with the authority to discuss the arrangements. Every decision we make continues to be guided by our number one priority of ensuring that every child and young person has the best possible start in life.”