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Fri, 10 July 2020

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Philip Hammond says extra Budget cash for schools was 'nice gesture' following backlash

Philip Hammond says extra Budget cash for schools was 'nice gesture' following backlash
3 min read

Philip Hammond has hit back at critics of his £400m Budget boost for schools by insisting it was a "nice gesture" which could pay for new white boards and laptops.

The Chancellor was attacked by MPs and trade unions after he told the Commons the money would fund "little extras" that headteachers currently struggle to afford.

Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, described the announcement as "a kick in the teeth", while teachers' leaders said the cash was not enough to reverse previous spending cuts.

Critics also pointed out that that the money was less than the £420m earmarked in the Budget to repair potholes.

But speaking on his traditional media round this morning, Mr Hammond insisted that the money - worth up to £50,000 for some schools - would be warmly welcomed and insisted next year's spending review will decide the overall education budget for future years.

The Chancellor told Good Morning Britain: "What I did yesterday was used some of the lower borrowing this year, where we’ve actually saved a bit of money this year, I just thought it would be a nice gesture to give some of it back.

"A small amount to each school in the country for headteachers to spend as they see fit, perhaps buying a piece of equipment or kit that the school needs, perhaps carrying out a piece of maintenance work that needs doing, I just thought that would be a nice gesture. It’s not a substitute for the long-term funding of our schools budget. That will be dealt with in the spending review next year along with all our other public services."

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Hammond added: "What it shows is that I had some money available in year and I thought a nice way of using it would be to give every school a grant which it can use for the priorities of that individual school, whether that be buying some computers, perhaps a whiteboard, in the case of a secondary school perhaps even a minibus, something like that."

But his comments sparked a fresh backlash from MPs.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told Good Morning Britain: "I’ve had teachers contacting me already really angry. No new money for day-to-day running of schools.

"The Chancellor of the Exchequer had this throwaway line that there will be a few little benefits, a few little additions. Well, actually what head teachers are saying is we are having to lay off teachers, teaching assistants, we are having to send out begging letters to parents just to pay for the basic running of our school. So, people are pretty angry that the austerity is rolling out still." 

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