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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Gove's reward

David Cameron is nothing if not loyal.

Today's pre-announcement of the Autumn Statement from the Chancellor and Danny Alexander looks like it will hand £1bn to Michael Gove, one of the PM's staunchest and most loyal allies.

That £1bn has not yet been earmarked but Treasury sources say it could build 100 new academies or Free Schools or create 50,000 extra school places.

Knowing that extending some popular schools may be a quicker means of getting those extra places, Gove may not devote all the cash to brand new schools.

But either way, it certainly is a hefty reward for the Education Secretary (whose offspring have, coincidentally, attended the same primary as the PM).

Some critics suggest that Gove didn't do too well out of the original spending review, with a tight squeeze on the department's budget. There are also concerns at the NAO that the department had a recent £1bn "overspend" on its rapidly expanding academies programme. It seems that today's cash won't be used to fill that hole, but some in Whitehall mutter that the DfE isn't exactly good with figures.

But in news management terms, it shows that even despite Kate's pregnancy, the Treasury has a Big Ticket announcement to trumpet even before the big day tomorrow.

And, by announcing it to Cabinet, the Chancellor may avoid the wrath of the Speaker*, who normally insists on the House being told of such matters first.

 

 

*FOOTNOTE: The Speaker told The House magazine earlier this year that he had given Osborne a 'detention' in the 2011 Autumn Statement for leaking his own announcements. But we in the media have absolutely, categorically no problem with leaks...

 

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