Hertfordshire County Council will support schools through the cost of living crisis after a motion was passed to maximise the resources put into cutting their energy bills.

Put forward by Liberal Democrat councillor Steve Jarvis, the motion was unanimously voted through by council members at a meeting on Tuesday, October 18.

“Increasing energy bills are a problem for all schools given how tight their budgets already are but for some, particularly smaller schools, this is having a big impact,” said Cllr Jarvis.

“The amount spent by schools per pupil varies massively depending on the size of the school and type of buildings – with some primary schools spending four times as much as others on their energy costs.”

Cllr Jarvis believes Hertfordshire County Council’s school’s decarbonisation programme, which aims to make all the county’s schools carbon neutral, could help solve their rising cost of energy bills.

Currently, £8 million has been spent on this programme, but an estimated £275 million will be needed to decarbonise all of Hertfordshire’s community schools.

“The best way to cut school energy bills and let them spend more on education is to help them cut their energy use with better insulation and more effective heating systems which will also cut schools’ carbon emissions,” he continued.

“The council’s school's decarbonisation programme should be able to achieve this.

 “I am glad that the council has agreed that, where possible, this programme will prioritise those schools most seriously affected by rising energy bills.”

As part of the passing of the motion, the council noted that the need to help schools with their energy bills should be considered during efforts to make them carbon neutral.

“Council notes that schools, particularly smaller schools, are being adversely impacted by rising energy costs and that projected future increases are likely to result in the need to switch more expenditure from teaching to heating,” read the minutes from the meeting.

“It also notes that the council's decarbonisation plans for schools could, depending on the carbon reduction routes selected, exacerbate this problem by further increasing schools’ energy costs.

“It requests that the executive members for education, libraries and lifelong learning and the environment should ensure that decisions taken on the routes to achieving zero carbon in schools should take into account the need to minimise the proportion of school budgets that need to be spent on energy bills.”