Tue, 17 May 2022

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Lib Dems vow £10bn 'emergency' boost for schools as they lift lid on election manifesto

Lib Dems vow £10bn  'emergency' boost for schools as they lift lid on election manifesto
3 min read

Schools will get a £10bn budget boost and 20,000 more teachers if the Liberal Democrats win the election, the party has promised.

Jo Swinson's party, which will launch its election manifesto in London on Wednesday, have pledged an "emergency cash injection" of £4.6bn next year, with the party vowing to spend £10.6bn a year more on schools by 2025.

The Lib Dems promised to use the money to increase teacher numbers, with a vow to recruit 20,000 more over the course of the Parliament by boosting starting salaries to £30,000 and guaranteeing teachers an annual pay rise of "at least 3% a year".

The party claimed that the increases would be paid for by a £50bn 'Remain Bonus', which the Lib Dems say would be available for public service because economic growth will be higher if the UK does not leave the EU.

Ms Swinson said: "It is disgraceful that some schools feel they have no choice but to ask parents to chip in for supplies, and are closing early on Friday to balance the books.

"Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for every child. By stopping Brexit, we can spend £10 billion of our Remain Bonus on reversing school cuts and hiring 20,000 more teachers – so that pupils can leave school happy, healthy and with the skills they need to succeed in life."

The Lib Dem leader added: "This just one of the fantastic policies from our manifesto that will help build a brighter future for our country."

Ms Swinson's party has also promised to use the use the £10bn school spending boost to increase the help available to children with special educational needs or a disability and do more to ensure teachers have access to "high-quality professional development".

The Lib Dems meanwhile said they would invest £7bn over five years in school building upgrades.

The promises have been given a cautious welcomed by the National Education Union, with joint general secretary Kevin Courtney pointing out that the initial £4.6bn cash boost was "£2 billion more than the Government has promised".

"We also welcome the commitment to spend £10.6 billion more on schools in 2024-25 compared with 2019-20," he said.

However, the teaching union chief warned: "These monies announced today are enough to reverse the cuts to the Schools Block but do not seem to fill the hole in special needs funding or restore the value of the Pupil Premium. Further, there does not appear to be any money for areas suffering from historic underfunding. We look forward to further conversations to address these."

Meanwhile Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner tore into the Liberal Democrats, blasting their time in the 2010-15 Coalition government with the Conservatives.

"This is an austerity manifesto from a party that has recently welcomed in many former Tory MPs with open arms," she claimed.

And the Labour frontbenhcer added: "Young people getting into debts today of over £55,000 will never forget the Lib-Dems' betrayal on tuition fees and austerity.

"Voting for the Lib Dems in this election is a wasted vote that will only open the door to a post-Brexit Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage alliance with Donald Trump to sell off our NHS."

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