The spending review protected spending in key areas that will promote social mobility, including the schools budget, £2.5 billion for the pupil premium, 15 hours a week of free early education for the lowest-income two-year-olds and an additional £200 million to support the most troubled families.
Child poverty fell by half under the previous Labour Government, but it is forecast to rise by 500,000 by 2015 under this Government. The Deputy Prime Minister has cut the national scholarship programme, the Sure Start programme and working tax credits for families. Are not the only beneficiaries of social mobility since the general election the Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem Ministers?
It is under this Government that we have given over 20 million people paying the basic rate of tax, particularly those on low incomes, a significant tax break so that they keep more of the money they earn. It is under this Government that we are taking close to 3 million people out of income tax altogether by raising the starting point at which it is paid to £10,000. It is under this Government that for the first time ever, from this September, two-year-old toddlers from the poorest families will get 15 hours free pre-school support. Relative child poverty is now at its lowest level since the mid-1980s, and the proportion of children living in relative poverty was lower in the past two years under this Government than it was in the last two years under the hon. Gentleman’s Government.
Gosport schools receive pupil premium funding, particularly because there are so many children from armed forces families. Does the Deputy Prime Minister agree that that underlines the Government’s commitment to education as one of the keys to improving life chances?
I agree with my hon. Friend. Only yesterday I attended the pupil premium awards ceremony, which was for teachers and head teachers who have made best use of the additional money, which will be £2.5 billion extra going to those schools that are educating children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds. It was a wonderful occasion, because it really showed, much as the schools in her constituency have shown, what good can come from good use of the pupil premium.