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Capital Funding (Milton Keynes)

Volume 473: debated on Monday 17 March 2008

2. How much capital funding will be provided to schools in Milton Keynes local authority area in the next three years. (194064)

Capital funding allocated for schools in the Milton Keynes local authority area in the next three years amounts to more than £75 million, including £30 million for growth. We are now considering Milton Keynes' application for additional growth funding to reflect its exceptional circumstances, which may result in further capital support. Of course I have been informed by the extensive representations made by my hon. Friend.

This morning I was at the start of the construction of the Milton Keynes academy in my constituency, so I am mindful of the money that we have had in Milton Keynes, but I have been making representations to support the bid by Milton Keynes council for the safety valve funding. Will the Minister confirm that, when he considers that, he will not just provide it according to formula but take into account the special needs of Milton Keynes?

Naturally, following the representations that I have received, I will certainly seek to do that. I am glad that my hon. Friend was able to be at the academy this morning to see the results of the excellent investment that is going in, which has risen significantly from the low level of less than £10 million in 2001-02 to the high levels today. I am hopeful that we can make an announcement in the next few weeks about what we are going to do in respect of the application that has been made by her authority for the basic needs safety valve funding.

The Minister is keen to trumpet the cash for Milton Keynes but less keen to confirm that there is now a £50 million shortfall in funding for Milton Keynes—confirmed to me by the Secretary of State in a letter on 4 February. That means that, at a time when the Government are forcing new houses on Milton Keynes, they seem less keen to fund the 10 or 12 new schools that we desperately need to accommodate that new housing. What exactly will the shortfall be for Milton Keynes over the next three years?

Certainly Milton Keynes council argues that it needs another £50 million. As I say, we are looking at the representations that the council and others have made. The hon. Gentleman has also been to see me to discuss the matter, but he needs to bear in mind when talking about that to his constituents that his party plans a raid on Building Schools for the Future that will take £4.5 billion from areas such as Milton Keynes, meaning that two of the 12 secondary schools in his town may not even be rebuilt.