Budget 'leaves thousands of grammar school places unfunded'
Theresa May is expected to face a fresh budget backlash, after it was revealed the amount allocated to set-up new grammar school places is not enough.
Treasury officials have admitted that the £320m set aside will provide just 13,000 places by 2020, a figure dwarfed by the 70,000 pledged by the Prime Minister.
The Independent says even with additional money earmarked for the next parliament, the funding would cover just half of the promised places.
The paper claims that information previously given by the Department for Education to the National Audit Office reveals that it costs £24,600 to create a new free school place, at which level the £320m promised would only pay for 13,008 places.
Treasury officials said funds reserved in the next parliament for the year 2021/22, around £655m, will amount to only 42,073 places being delivered.
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “The Government is sinking greater sums of taxpayers’ money into a free schools programme that is over budget, behind time, and can’t provide the places that are needed.”
One senior Conservative figure told The Independent: “We need to be clear where the money is coming. If you are going to launch a whole new policy area it diverts attention away from existing areas and it diverts money away from a system that is already under immense pressure.”
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Free schools are playing a vital role in creating more good school places and are 29 per cent cheaper to build than schools built under the previous programme.
“The £320m announced at the Budget is the amount committed in this Parliament, up to the 2020-21 financial year. The total budget required for opening these schools will be set out at a later date."