At the spending review, the Government set out spending plans for the Department for Education worth more than £86 billion for 2024-25. This is an £18.4 billion cash increase over the Parliament, showing that this Government are serious about skills, schools and families across the country.
I associate myself with the remarks made by the Minister for School Standards, the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr Walker) about the late Member for Birmingham, Erdington.
We now know that £2.7 billion was spent on personal protective equipment that cannot be used, and that £4.3 billion of the money that was stolen during covid through the furlough scheme and other schemes is being written off by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Does the Minister share my concern about the difference that that cash could have made in meeting the target of more than £15 billion that the Government’s own tsar reckoned was needed to catch up on the days that our children have lost in school? Will she call for a review of this?
Will the Minister, mindful of what she has just said, investigate how much local authorities are spending on so-called anti-racist education, which is based on deceit, spreads dismay and causes division? She will know that this is happening in Brighton and elsewhere. Will she therefore meet Don’t Divide Us—parents and teachers who are highlighting these matters—with a view to issuing guidance and if necessary taking legislative steps to prevent this kind of indoctrination?
I know that the Minister for School Standards, my hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr Walker), will be only too happy to meet my right hon. Friend. It is important that I remind the House that schools are subject to political impartiality, and guidance on this will be updated shortly.
Taxpayer-subsidised childcare is increasingly being taken over by large for-profit companies quartered overseas, according to new research by University College London and the Nuffield Foundation. These companies have growing debts and charge high fees to parents while having among the lowest levels of staff qualifications and pay. They are reinvesting little in childcare provision. Does the Minister believe that repaying corporate debt represents value for money for taxpayers while families across the country struggle to access childcare that they can afford?
We are investing additional funding for the entitlements worth £160 million in 2022-23. I know that the Minister for Children and Families, the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Will Quince), will be only too happy to meet the hon. Member to discuss this in detail.
Full membership of Horizon Europe continues to be treated as a negotiating pawn by this Government, but it is a very important source of higher education funding. When the Government talk of funding safety nets, they fail to recognise the importance of the rich collaborations that result from Horizon. When will this Government stop faffing about and make a concrete decision on the UK’s full participation in Horizon Europe?
We recognise that the ongoing delays by the EU have led to uncertainty for researchers, businesses and innovators. We have made it very clear that, in the event the UK is unable to associate with Horizon Europe, the funding that has been put aside will go to the UK Government’s research and development programmes, including those that would form partnerships internationally.