All schools face budget cuts by 2020 - analysis

Posted On: 
17th March 2017

Labour has accused the Government of breaking another manifesto promise after new research suggested every school in England will see budget cuts by 2020.

The Tories pledged a real-terms increase in the schools budget during the course of this Parliament in their 2015 manifesto
PA Images

Analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) found that there would be funding shortfalls even after ministers’ new plans are put into place.

Average losses will reach £74,000 for primary schools and £291,000 for secondary schools by the end of the Parliament, the EPI estimated.

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The group said that budgetary pressures would mean that schools in line to benefit from changes to funding will see their “gains completely wiped out”.

The EPI said the cuts were a result of unfunded rises in pay, pension and National Insurance Contributions, which will account for up to 11% of schools’ budgets by 2019-20.

"There are unlikely to be any schools in England which will avoid a real terms cut in per pupil funding by 2019-20, even in areas benefiting from the new formula,” their report said.

EPI chairman David Laws, the former Liberal Democrat schools minister, said a new funding formula was very much required.

But he added: "As our analysis shows, however, the Government may receive little credit from schools for these reforms - as even the schools benefiting from the new formula have their gains completely wiped out by other funding pressures."

The Tories pledged a real-terms increase in the schools budget during the course of this Parliament, and insisted that “the amount of money following your child into school will be protected”.

"As the number of pupils increases, so will the amount of money in our schools,” they promised.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “Labour supports fairer funding for our schools, but the Government's formula simply moves already inadequate sums of money around - the overall pot is not being increased.

"Even without the proposed formula, schools are already seeing both real-terms cuts to their spending and rising costs on top. Headteachers are being forced to choose between cutting subjects or cutting the school week.

“Less than two years ago the Tories promised millions of parents that they would protect the money that is spent per pupil on their children’s education. This report shows that it is yet another manifesto promise they are breaking."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education highlighted that the EPI agreed that ministers were right to introduce reforms to school funding.

She claimed that funding is set to rise to £42bn over the next two years as pupil numbers increase.

"Schools will be funded according to their pupils' needs, rather than by their postcode, with more than half set to receive a cash boost,” the spokeswoman added.

"Of course we recognise that schools are facing cost pressures, which is why we will continue to provide support to help them use their funding in cost effective ways."

The new funding formula will redirect money from well-funded city schools towards those in more rural and coastal settings.

Per-pupil spending at primary and secondary schools currently stands at £4,900 and £6,300 respectively, approximately double the level of the mid-1990s