Boris Johnson vows to reverse Tory education cuts if he wins leadership race
Boris Johnson has pledged to undo billions of pounds of Government cuts to schools funding if he becomes the next Prime Minister.
The Conservative leadership frontrunner said he would give England's schools budget a £4.6bn boost per year by 2022/23 if he enters Number 10.
The move - billed as a bid to address the "cry" from "left behind" communities who voted for Brexit in 2016 - would roll back education funding cuts brought in under then-chancellor George Osborne in 2015.
Total school spending per pupil was frozen between 2015-16 and 2017-18, a move the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank has said translated to a real-terms cut of around 4%.
The IFS billed it as "the first real-terms cut in per-pupil spending since the mid 1990S".
But Mr Johnson's campaign team said the Tory hopeful would pump an extra £4.6bn per year into the system by 2022-23 to keep pace with rising pupil numbers and return schools spending per pupil to its 2015 peak.
The former Foreign Secretary said: "The 2016 referendum result was a clear cry from many people that they have been left behind. As Conservative councillors and members all over the country know, for too many years, schools in rural regions have received much less funding than schools in other parts of the country."
He added: "By making sure we leave the EU on 31 October, we can make sure that we level up all parts of the UK, invest in our schools and close the opportunity gap in our country."
The Johnson campaign has also pledged to ensure that all primary schools receive at least £4,000 in funding per pupil - a £306m total uplift on current spending.
Under the Government's current schools funding formula, primary schools are guaranteed £3,500 for every pupil.
However, leadership hopeful's team have flagged that 64 out of 150 "primarily rural" local authorities currently have funding levels below £4,000.
Meanwhile Mr Johnson has already committed to lifting secondary school funding to £5,000 per pupil - £200 higher that the Government's current pledge for 2019-20.
His campaign estimates that this will cost £49m above current spending.
But Labour rounded on the pledge from the top Conservative, saying the move would not "come close" to undoing "all the cuts" imposed by ministers.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: "After sitting at the Cabinet table agreeing cuts to schools in successive Tory budgets, Boris Johnson has finally admitted that austerity has failed our children.
"But he cannot be trusted to end the cuts because unlike Labour the Tories refuse to make the highest earners and big corporations pay their fair share, or clamp down on tax dodging by the rich.
"Even today’s supposed pledge doesn’t come close to reversing all the cuts that the Tories have imposed on education, let alone match Labour’s plans to invest in a national education service."
And the Labour frontbencher added: "No budget could compensate for the damage of the disastrous no-deal Brexit he continues to threaten."
Trying to get your head around all the Conservative campaign pledges? Read this Johnson v Hunt comparison from our House magazine and Dods Monitoring colleagues