Ministers have revealed that more than half of all academy schools in England have lacked enough income to cover their annual expenditure.
During parliamentary questions, figures produced show that the proportion of academy trusts with an annual shortfall has doubled in 24 months.
The data for 2014/15 shows that 53 per cent of stand-alone academies were recorded as having “spent more than their income per year”, compared to 42 per cent the previous year.
The same could be said about multi-academy trusts (MATs), with 53 per cent spending more than they took, up from 25 per cent the year before.
Ministers suggested that the figures represent a rising problem with inadequate education funding for both academies and local authority schools alike.
“Academies are already falling short of cash and this is a deep concern to staff and parents. It shows that the system has a shaky foundation,” said Liberal Democrat education spokesman John Pugh.
“The government want to pretend that academies and free schools are the answer to the funding problems but this shows that they’re not immune to the impact of the government slashing education budgets,” he said.
Referring to budget cuts, it was announced last week that £384 million set aside for converting schools to academies had been revoked by the Treasury.
Following the report, a Department for Education spokesperson said it is up to the academy to budget their school’s finances.
“An academy trust is required by law to balance its budget from each academic financial year to the next.
“Where the board of an academy is proposing to set a deficit budget for the current financial year, it must notify the Education Funding Agency (EFA).
“Wherever appropriate, the EFA will provide support to academy trusts experiencing financial difficulty but where we find financial mismanagement or irregularities we will not hesitate to take swift action.”