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School Budgets

Volume 643: debated on Monday 25 June 2018

10. What estimate he has made of the number of schools that will have a cash terms reduction in their budget in 2018-19 compared with 2017-18. (906009)

Through the national funding formula, we are giving every local authority more money for every pupil in every school in 2018-19 and 2019-20. However, we have always made it clear that local authorities remain responsible for determining schools’ final budget allocations in these transition years, in consultation with their schools.

I thank the Minister for his answer, but I am horrified by what it contains, because the reality is that in my constituency, in the Borough of Tower Hamlets, there will be £28 million of cuts by 2020 in an area with the highest child poverty in the country. Where is the fairness in that, and will the Minister and the Secretary of State show some guts and stand up to the Prime Minister, perhaps like the Defence Secretary, and call an end to the billions of pounds of cuts in national funding of education?

Under the national funding formula we prioritise children from disadvantaged backgrounds; that is a key element of the way we allocate funding in a fairer way. In the hon. Lady’s constituency, the average per pupil funding for primary schools under the national funding formula when it is fully implemented will be £6,140, compared with the national average of £4,193 per primary school pupil. For secondary, the hon. Lady’s schools will be funded at £7,965 per pupil compared with the national average of £5,380.

The Minister knows that I have written to him and met him to discuss some of the budgets of schools in my constituency, which seem to be going down, at variance to the impression the Government would give; and those schools where the budget is going up seem to have their costs increasing at a faster rate than the increase in funding they are getting. Will the Minister look again at the schools budget in the Shipley constituency? Will he perhaps write to me with his understanding of what each school is getting this year and in the next financial year compared with the last financial year, and will he commit to making sure they get adequate funding? And if he is looking for a pot of money, perhaps the overseas aid budget would be a good place to start.

Of course I will write to my hon. Friend as he asks, but I have to say that we are spending record amounts of money on schools, some £42.4 billion this year. There has never been a sum as high spent on schools in our history, and it will rise again next year to £43.5 billion, and we announced an increase in school funding last July to the tune of £1.3 billion. That was the result of successful negotiations with the Treasury.

21. All Birkenhead schools, like schools throughout the country, suffer real cuts in their budgets. Will the Minister meet me to seek ways by which we automatically enrol all poor children for free school dinners, and, as importantly, the Government’s initiative, the school premium? (906023)

The right hon. Gentleman makes some interesting points and I will take advice on his suggestions, but I must say that we have guaranteed the pupil premium to the end of this Parliament: it is over £1,300 for every pupil eligible for free school meals attending a primary school, and nearly £1,000 for every disadvantaged child attending a secondary school.

Does the Minister agree that there is nothing morally superior about maintaining a blatantly unfair existing system, and is it not fair and reasonable therefore to target increases in school funding on schools, such as those in Worcestershire, that have been relatively underfunded for decades?

This Government have grasped the nettle and are introducing a fairer, more transparent funding system, which the previous Labour Government shied away from.

The Chancellor gave a guarantee that not a single school would lose a single penny—no ifs, no buts, no small print, but an ironclad, copper-bottomed guarantee. Now he is trying to wriggle out of it like a second-hand car salesman. If Private Pike is prepared to go to war to get funding for defence, why is the Education Secretary waving the white flag rather than meeting his guarantee on schools?

The national fairer funding system is giving every local authority in the country more money for every pupil in every school in 2018-19 and 2019-20, and the Institute for Fiscal Studies says that school funding will be maintained in real terms per pupil in those two years. But we have always been clear that for these two years we will allow some discretion to local authorities as to how they allocate that funding to each of their local schools, and that is why the points the hon. Lady made arise: because we have given discretion to local authorities.