Disadvantaged schoolchildren in England are only receiving around half the funding they are supposed to because of local authority spending decisions, a report says.
Researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies say town hall planners are distributing some of the funding allocated by central government towards disadvantaged schoolchildren in ways which benefit all pupils.
As a result only £3,670 of the £5,950 supposed to be paid is received by primary schools, while only £5,520 of the £7,120 of the premium implicitly paid by central government for secondary schools is being directly allocated.
The report's writers are concerned this is having a negative impact on disadvantaged children's education.
"Local authorities are weakening the incentive for schools to attract children from disadvantaged backgrounds, by passing on the extra funding that Whitehall provides for them only slowly and incompletely to the schools they attend," co-author Haroon Chowdry said.
"If the government believes that spending more on the education of disadvantaged pupils is a good way to improve their life chances, it must be concerned that much of the money appears not to be getting to the pupils that it presumably wishes to benefit."