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Funding Increases for Schools: Timetable

Volume 664: debated on Monday 9 September 2019

5. What discussions he has had with the Prime Minister on the timetable for increasing the level of funding for schools. (912313)

In August, the Prime Minister announced an extra £14 billion for schools in England over the next three years. That will bring the schools budget to £52.2 billion in 2022-23. This will allow funding increases for all schools. In particular, our pledge to level up pupil funding means that every secondary school will receive a minimum of at least £5,000 per pupil next year, with every primary school getting a minimum of at least £4,000 from 2021-22. This is the largest cash boost in a generation, and that has only been possible because of our balanced approach to public finances and careful stewardship of the economy since 2010.

The Department for Education is no doubt very illustrious, but it is not well versed in the application of the blue pencil.

The Chancellor’s promise to increase school funding is welcome, but he has given no extra money to schools for this year. School budgets are at breaking point, so will the Minister acknowledge that he is leaving schools on the brink?

What the hon. Gentleman says is not actually true. We have given extra money to fund employer pension contributions this year and to partially fund the pay grant over and above the 1%, and now the 2%, that is affordable, so we have provided schools with extra money this financial year.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I congratulate the Minister and the Secretary of State on securing the extra funding from the Chancellor in the spending review. As the Minister knows, I have been arguing for this for some time. Can I urge him to front-load this money, because we know that school costs have been outstripping their incomes? They need this money as soon as possible. And while he’s there, as the Secretary of State is Bradford educated, will the Minister encourage him to return to Bradford district in order to visit some schools in my constituency?

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the work and campaigning he has done to secure extra funding for schools in his constituency. He has been successful in ensuring we have the most generous schools settlement in a generation, and that is in part a tribute to his work, as well as that of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who has heard his request for a visit to Bradford and I am sure will comply.

Not that I would ever wish to appear ungrateful to the unmoveable Schools Minister, but he will be aware that there is a funding shortfall of £1.2 billion for children with special needs and disabilities. In Hull alone, the shortfall is £4 million. Will he please ensure that all our children can have their needs met by urgently addressing this funding shortfall?

We take this issue as seriously as the hon. Lady does, which is why we have announced within the £14 billion a £700 million increase for special needs. That is an 11% increase. We absolutely understand the pressures that local authorities have been under and we are addressing it.

I welcome the extra £14 billion of school funding that the Government have committed to. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that some of that money goes to schools in my constituency, some of which have been historically underfunded? They are fantastic schools but could do even better with more money.

My hon. Friend has been a redoubtable campaigner for school funding in her constituency. Thanks to her efforts and the balanced approach we have taken to the public finances, the school funding settlement will mean that every school in her constituency will attract an increase in funding and that 75% of secondary schools there will benefit from our pledge to level up school funding to at least £5,000 per secondary school pupil.

Could I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it does not cost any money at all to save children’s lives in a measles epidemic by making every school see a certificate of MMR vaccination before they get to the school? Will he take on board another point? My schools tell me that after all these years of deprivation—since 2010—in schools it will take a long time to come back, even with the quick fix of the money he is now throwing at them.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that this funding represents a large increase in per pupil spending and reverses the reductions to real-terms per pupil funding for five to 16-year-olds. The hon. Gentleman is right about MMR. It is very important that parents vaccinate their children. There is a lot of information available about the safety of the MMR vaccine from the NHS, and we would encourage parents to look at that information before making a decision.

I warmly welcome the recent education financial settlement, which is good news for all schools across our country. Does the Minister agree that such resources will help to make schools and education provision even better so that all children across the country can benefit?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. This funding will mean that we can continue our education reforms and continue to drive up standards—standards of reading and maths in our primary schools and in the whole range of the curriculum in our secondary schools.

They say that faith is the substance of things hoped for over the evidence of things not seen. At the time of her resignation, the right hon. Member for Hastings and Rye (Amber Rudd) said “Judge a man by what he does, not what he says.” The Secretary of State has been part of a Government who have slashed £1.9 million from schools in his own constituency in the last four years. Codsall Community High School has lost £700,000, and Staffordshire has had to slash £60 million from its budget. The electoral promises are not worth the textbook that they are written on, are they?

I wish that the hon. Gentleman had cited the figures in my constituency, given that he is asking me the question although it was pre-prepared for the Secretary of State.

As I have said, the IFS has stated that this funding fully reverses cuts in funding for five-to-16-year-olds. We have only been able to deliver such a large increase in school funding because of the way in which we have managed the public finances since the banking crisis in 2008. That is why we can do this today, and why we have been able to announce the three-year spending package that all schools, including schools in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, have been seeking.