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School Funding

Volume 525: debated on Monday 21 March 2011

4. What his policy is on the future of devolved formula capital grant funding for (a) primary and (b) secondary schools. (47460)

We announced on 13 December 2010 the 2011-12 allocation of devolved formula capital money for primary and secondary schools, including academies. After the conclusion of the James review into capital spending, which will report shortly, I will decide on allocations for this programme for 2012-13 to 2014-15.

Research by the House of Commons Library shows that that funding which goes towards computers, building work and repairs, is due to fall by £26,000 per primary school and £86,000 per secondary school, which is on top of Building Schools for the Future cuts. That was first brought to my attention by heads of schools in my constituency. How does the Secretary of State expect to raise standards across the country when he is slashing funds to maintain the basic infrastructural fabric of our schools?

I am grateful for the moderate way in which the hon. Gentleman couches his question. The sad truth is that the Government did not have the information available to know quite how dilapidated the schools estate that we inherited was, because in 2005 the previous Government abandoned any systematic collection of data about the state of schools. More than that, we inherited a situation in which the Office of Government Commerce had warned the previous Government that there was insufficient investment in additional pupil places. That is why we doubled the amount of capital spending on additional pupil places. As a result, we have had to make economies elsewhere, but we have prioritised where the previous Government failed to.

Many urban areas in the south-east, such as Reading, will shortly have enormous pressure on their primary and secondary school places. For planning purposes, it is important that they can look further ahead than 2012. What can my right hon. Friend do to assist local education authorities that are struggling, and under the most pressure, with additional pupil places?

We have doubled the amount of money that local authorities have to spend on additional pupil places this year. The James review will give all local authorities a greater degree of confidence that every penny that is spent on pupil places can be spent more effectively and efficiently.