CONCERN is being raised over the impact that a hike in energy bills will have on schools across the region.

Analysis by Labour reveals today that UK state schools pay over £660m in energy costs annually.

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With electric and gas costs soaring, the average energy bill is likely to rise by at least 12 per cent in the coming months.

Schools North East says that 'extortionate rates' are being quoted, with some schools seeing up to a 50 per cent increase on gas, and more than 25 per cent on electricity.

A spokesman for Schools North East said: "Going out to tender is proving a challenge with many companies not quoting and schools feeling backed into a corner to sign a contract.

"One trust predicted, across two schools, this will lead to an additional £18,000.

"Another with one secondary and five primaries, said this would be £56,000 in additional costs.

"These additional costs may negate the savings that had been achieved in previous years."

The charity is warning that all schools will be affected by the rapidly rising costs of gas and electric - none of which has been budgeted for in this year or three year projections.

The spokesman added: "Deprived communities will be hit by increasing costs and look to schools for support.

"Schools in the North East, and across the country, proved to be a fourth emergency service and national strategic infrastructure during covid ensuring their communities were supported and fed."

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He added: "While the additional money announced in yesterday’s (Wednesday's) budget will be welcomed by schools there is a substantial risk a large proportion of it will be swallowed up by increased essential costs."

Peter Kyle MP, Labour Shadow Schools’ Minister, said the situation was a 'crisis', adding: "This government needs to come forward with a clear plan for how schools should deal with this increase in costs.

"Children across the country cannot wait."