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Education Sector Funding

Volume 725: debated on Tuesday 20 December 2022

At spending review 2021, the Department for Education was allocated a total of £87 billion, providing a cash increase to our education system of about £18 billion by 2024-25. Young people and adults benefited from the biggest long-term settlement for post-16 education in England since 2015. Of course, at the recent autumn statement, an additional cash increase of £2 billion was provided for both 2023-24 and 2024-25.

There have been significant improvements in special educational needs and disabilities provision in Ipswich in the last few years. Just last week, the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Claire Coutinho), was at the Sir Bobby Robson School, which has 66 new places. Suffolk has had 1,000 new SEND places since 2019, and all of that is because of the investment that my right hon. Friend just mentioned. However, it is ever so slightly frustrating that Suffolk is still unfairly funded compared with other areas, including not just London but Norfolk, where a SEND pupil will get £99 more per head than those in Suffolk. I want young people with SEND in Norfolk to have every chance, but there is no reason why young and vulnerable people in Suffolk and Ipswich should get any less funding and investment. Will he commit to reviewing the bizarre quirk that means that Suffolk SEND kids get less than kids elsewhere?

My hon. Friend is somewhat of an expert in the subject. I agree that it is critical that we get it right. Decisions on the distribution of high-needs funding are a matter for the Department for Education, but I reassure him that, as a result of the additional funding announced at the autumn statement, Suffolk’s high-needs funding is increasing by 11% per pupil in 2023-24 compared with this year. The Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Claire Coutinho), who has responsibility for children, families and wellbeing, will be happy to meet my hon. Friend to describe and discuss the different mechanisms of allocation and, indeed, how the high-needs formula works across different local authorities.

A merry Christmas to everybody when it comes. What steps is the Minister taking to review further education funding for people with disabilities? It is very important that people have equal opportunities across the United Kingdom and that our education system has inclusion at its core.

I completely agree with the hon. Lady, and I am working with colleagues in different Departments looking at the challenges to help people back into the workplace. It is particularly difficult when people need support for such a range of needs and conditions. We must treat everyone as an individual and be ever more creative in the solutions that we bring forward. I look forward to working with her and colleagues in Government to try to assist in improving the situation.