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Education Funding

Volume 649: debated on Monday 12 November 2018

14. What assessment he has made of the effect of the additional funding for education announced in Budget 2018 on education funding in real terms. (907550)

In the Budget, the Government invested more than £1 billion of new funding for the Department for Education, including £695 million to improve the number and quality of apprenticeships, £400 million capital for schools, £100 million for the national retraining scheme and £84 million to improve children’s social care.

The Secretary of State makes reference to all sorts of streams except revenue funding, so will he confirm that the Budget offered no additional revenue funding for schools and that means that, in real terms, per pupil funding will fall yet again next year, as the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found?

No, Mr Speaker. Of course revenue funding is determined periodically at spending reviews. Since the last spending review, we have found an additional £1.3 billion to hold per pupil real terms funding constant on a nationwide level.

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is not just the total amount of funding, but where and how it is spent? The implementation of the fairer funding formula is certainly welcome in Worcestershire.

Yes, my hon. Friend is right. Through the national funding formula—the fairer formula—we are taking on something that successive Governments have dodged to make sure that funding is based on need and the characteristics of pupils, rather than accidents of history.

No wonder the Secretary of State has been slapped down by his own stats watchdog four times since he took office. The IFS found that per pupil funding is hundreds of pounds lower in real terms than it was in 2015 and is set to fall again next year without new funding, so I ask him again: will he be asking the Chancellor to reverse all his cuts in full and in real terms?

I have not been slapped down four times by anybody, to the best of my recollection. I appreciate the difficulties in managing school budgets, and I appreciate that those budgets are tight, but it is also true that we spend a great deal more on schools than we used to and that, by international standards, on multiple measures, we spend a relatively high amount on state education in this country.

I am really pleased that the Secretary of State has since clarified that the Chancellor’s “little extras” should in fact be called “small additional capital projects”. Perhaps he can also clarify that school capital spending has already been cut by nearly £4 billion a year. So the Budget offered very little and no extra. Now that the Prime Minister has promised austerity is over, will the Secretary of State ask the Chancellor to fully restore the education capital budget in real terms?

We are investing a great deal of capital both on expanding the school estate to create more high-quality places and in terms of its condition. The £400 million for additional small capital projects is on top of the £1.4 billion already allocated.