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Fri, 14 August 2020

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Anger as Justine Greening raids education budget to boost schools funding

Anger as Justine Greening raids education budget to boost schools funding

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

Ministers have been accused of "robbing Peter to pay Paul" after it emerged the education budget will be raided to free up an extra £1.3bn for schools.

Education Secretary Justine Greening said the money would boost per-pupil spending in real terms amid concerns from MPs that a new funding formula would slash school budgets.

But the Cabinet minister was criticised after it was confirmed the money would come from "efficiencies and savings" elsewhere in the education budget.

That will include £280m from the free schools programme, meaning local councils will be responsible for around 40 of them. Ms Greening said a further £420m was being raised from the sugar tax on soft drinks.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner demanded to know which other programmes would be cut to free up the cash, arguing the announcement “throws up more questions than it answers”.

"What has been announced today is just a sticking plaster," she said in the Commons this afternoon. "Per pupil funding will still fall over the course of this Parliament unless further action is taken urgently."

Labour former frontbencher Chris Leslie meanwhile added: "Effectively it sounds like she’s going to be robbing Peter to pay Paul from within the central programme.

"So can she set out a bit more clearly which of these programmes is going to be cut or is she promising not to cut any of them?"

Other cash would come from other central DfE funds, with per pupil spending after 2020 to be set out in September, said Ms Greening.

The announcement followed a furious row over Tory plans to change the school funding funding after experts said many schools would face real terms cuts.

Ms Greening said today: “We believe all children should have an education that unlocks their potential and allows them to go as far as their talent and hard work will take them.

“We recognise that during the election people were concerned about school funding.  That is why I am confirming plans to get on with introducing a national funding formula in 2018/19.  

“This will additionally now be supported by significant extra investment into the core schools budget over next two years.”