Schools still face ‘unprecedented’ funding freeze despite ministers’ £4bn boost, warns IFS

Posted On: 
19th September 2019

A massive hike in school funding announced by the Government is not enough to turn around more than a decade of cuts, experts have warned.

The effective 13-year real-terms freeze will still represent an unprecedented period without growth, the IFS has said
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The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the £4.3bn announced for schools by 2022 in the Chancellor’s spending review would “just about reverse” the cuts of 8% in spending per pupil since 2009.

The additional cash unveiled by Sajid Javid earlier this month represents a 7.4% increase in spending per pupil.

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However they added that the lack of real growth amounted to an “unprecedented” 13-year real-terms freeze.

The group’s report found that while the £300m earmarked for further education in 2020-21 represented a 4% real-terms increase in spending per student, it remained 7% down on 2010.

It adds that fully reversing cuts to 16-18 year olds education, which includes sixth form colleges, since 2010–11 would cost £1.1bn on top of current plans.

Luke Sibieta, co-author of the report and a Research Fellow at the IFS, said: "The 2019 Spending Round provided genuinely substantial increases in school funding, enough to more or less offset all cuts since 2009.

"Of course, that still means no real growth in spending per pupil over a 13-year period.

"The extra £300 million for further education and sixth forms provides for a small rise in 2020, but at least a further £1.1 billion would be required to fully reverse cuts since 2010.

He added that the higher sector faced coming under further pressure from likely Government reforms following an independent review commissioned by Theresa May, when she was Prime Minister.

"The higher education sector faces yet more uncertainty given the potential for another radical shake-up proposed by the Augar Review or even the abolition of tuition fees proposed by Labour," he added.

Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, said: “The Tories have cut money for our schools while slashing taxes for the super-rich.

"After more than a decade of cuts, by 2022-23 our schools still won’t even get the same funding that they received 10 years ago, let alone the investment they need to give all our children a world-class education.

"As the IFS report makes clear, even after huge cuts to sixth form and further education colleges and adult education, yet more cuts are on the way for post-16 education.

Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, David Hughes, said: “The consequences of the decline in spending and real term freezes has meant fewer adult learners, squeezed budgets and lack of resource to provide the skills the country needs. 

“While the Chancellor’s recent spending announcement of £400 million for sixth forms and colleges was welcome and a further £100 million for teachers’ pensions a step in the right direction it must be followed by long-term investment to reverse ten years of continuous cuts and reform.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "We recently announced a £14billion investment in schools - the biggest cash boost for a decade, which the independent IFS has said will restore schools’ funding to previous levels in real terms per pupil by 2022-23.

"Alongside this, we announced a significant real terms increase in funding for 16 to 19 year olds in 2020-21 to make sure we can continue to develop world class education to rival countries on the continent. We also provided £700 million extra for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

"Together this package will give all young people the same opportunities to succeed and access the education that’s right for them regardless of where they grow up."