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Efficiency Savings

Volume 630: debated on Monday 6 November 2017

12. What progress she has made on identifying the departmental efficiency savings of £1.3 billion announced in July 2017. (901609)

My Department has been working to identify the efficiency savings that will ultimately result in a cash boost for schools and put £1.3 billion directly into the hands of headteachers. That means that, across the country, funding will be maintained in real terms per pupil over the next two years.

I cannot say that that was a terribly revealing answer, but the Minister for School Standards did better in a recent letter, in which he said that, over three years, the Department will cut about £1 billion from the free schools programme, which he was lauding a second ago, and 37% from the healthy living project. Is that how the Secretary of State is trying to compensate for the cuts she has made to the core schools budget?

Most parents would be staggered that the hon. Gentleman is so against my looking across my Department to make sure that I challenge it and its officials to work as efficiently as we are now challenging schools to be. That is quite right, and I am now able to put the fruits of that initiative into the hands of headteachers, providing them with more money on the frontline. We will be making effective savings, which is actually the way to get more out of our education budget.

Can the Secretary of State confirm the National Audit Office assessment that £2.7 billion has been cut from the schools budget since 2015, and that the £1.3 billion she mentioned earlier will protect budgets only until 2020, after which she will either need new money from the Treasury or she will need simply to deliver another cut to school funding?

As the hon. Lady should know, the next spending review process is yet to get under way. Of course school budgets, alongside every other budget across government, will be agreed as part of that. We had a question earlier about the fact that money and results are not necessarily correlated, and I have to say that if there is one part of our United Kingdom where a Government are failing their children, it is Wales—where Labour is in charge—not England.