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National Funding Formula: Hampshire

Volume 621: debated on Monday 6 February 2017

5. What assessment she has made of the effect of the proposed national funding formula on schools in Hampshire. (908590)

As we have been hearing, the Government want a fairer approach. It is clear that the Labour party supports the status quo of an unfair, un-transparent, outdated postcode-lottery approach to how schools funding is distributed. For Hampshire, this fairer alternative will mean extra money: £9 million of extra money every year for high-needs children in local Hampshire schools, in fact, and a further £4.5 million every year for Hampshire schools overall on top of that. My hon. Friend’s local schools in North East Hampshire will gain more than £1 million a year.

I thank the Secretary of State for those figures, which are most welcome—indeed, the county council leader said that to me the other day—but living costs are also high in Hampshire, especially in North East Hampshire. Will she consider tweaking the formula so that it includes a cost-neutral cost of living allowance, given that the average house price in my patch is £375,000, but house prices just over the border, where there is a London allowance, are £50,000 cheaper?

I am sure my hon. Friend will want to make those points as part of the consultation that is under way, but as he will be aware, our formula looks at area cost adjustments that take into account variations in not only the general labour market but specifically the teaching labour markets. Such an approach is designed to compensate schools that face higher wage costs. We have a measure that is based on salaries, which we think is the best way, but as I said, this is a consultation and I am sure he will want to put the point he makes into it.

It is quite a long way over the border to Liverpool, Wavertree, but there we go. I call Luciana Berger.

During these questions, we seem to be dealing with some “alternative facts”. According to the details I have in front of me, Liverpool schools are set to lose £3.6 million. I visited a primary school in Picton in my constituency—Picton is one of the most deprived wards in the country—that is going to lose more than 10% of its budget; we are talking about more than £100,000 for some of the most deprived children in this country. Can the Government please explain to Labour Members, and to the whole House, exactly what is going on and why they seem to be presenting something very different from what our schools are having to contend with in reality?

I think it is because we are using accurate data. We end up in a straightforward place. First, do we believe that our children should be funded fairly during their time in school, wherever in the country they are growing up? Secondly, do we believe that deprivation funding should be based on up-to-date data? If the Labour party wants an approach that is unfair and based on out-of-date data, I will be happy to see its submissions to the consultation.