Philip Hammond sparks fresh row as he urges unhappy teachers to give ‘little extras’ cash to other schools
Philip Hammond has reignited a funding row after he urged teachers unhappy with a £50,000 Budget cash boost for “little extras” to pass the money on to other schools.
The Chancellor came under fire last week as he unveiled £400m in fresh funding for schools to pay for “that extra bit of kit that would make such a difference”.
Teaching unions warned the cash would do little to reverse previous real-terms spending cuts, while Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier branded it a “kick in the teeth”.
Mr Hammond today told MPs that he had been “surprised” and “disappointed” by the backlash to his announcement.
And he said any teachers who could not find a way to spend the boost - estimated at £50,000 per secondary school - should send the cheque on to those who could.
He told the Treasury Committee: “I looked at schools and I looked for a level of average contribution to schools that would be worthwhile.
“And despite the various comments that have been made by various people I maintain that for most secondary schools, receiving a cheque for £50,000 which they can spend on an item or items in year will be something worth having.
“And I’m sure that for anybody who feels it’s not worth having there will be plenty of other schools who’ll be willing to receive the cheque on their behalf.”
The comments drew swift condemnation from Treasury Committee member Wes Streeting, who urged the Chancellor to “get out of the Treasury” and learn about the pressures facing teachers.
The Labour MP told PoliticsHome after his clash with Mr Hammond: “The Chancellor was given an opportunity to show headteachers that he understands the pressures they’re under - and he blew it.
“A couple of new computers or some new PE equipment funded from this one-off giveaway won’t compensate for the loss of teachers and teaching assistants.
“Philip Hammond should get out of the Treasury and into some schools to understand why teachers and parents are so worried about school funding.”
Mr Hammond told the committee that the extra in-year cash, which must be spent by schools in the next five months, had not been about “headlines”.
But he acknowledged schools were “operating under pressure”.
He mounted a defence of the Government’s wider record on education spending, pointing out that the Treasury had already pumped an additional £1.3bn into the schools system in 2017.
“So I am surprised by those comments and disappointed by them,” the Chancellor added. “But our intention remains the same: that we will look at schools funding in the round as part of the Spending Review next year.”
Elsewhere in his Treasury committee grilling, Mr Hammond stood by the Government’s decision not to enforce a clampdown on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals until next October, following the high-profile resignation of minsiter Tracey Crouch over the issue.
Ms Crouch quit as a culture minister last week after the Chancellor confirmed that a move to slash the maximum stake on the high street betting machines from £100 to £2 would not be brought in until late 2019.
The outgoing minister accused the Government of caving into lobbyists and branded the move "unjustifiable".
But Mr Hammond today insisted the Treasury’s job had been to weigh up the need to cut problem gambling with trying to avoid job losses in the gambling industry.
“By giving a sensible period of time for this to happen, we’ll be able to ensure that as many as possible of those job losses are dealt with voluntary redundancy processes rather than compulsory redundancy processes,” he said.
“And as ever with difficult decisions the Government takes there has to be a balancing of the different interests involved and the different concerns.”
He predicted that the ban would still lead to the elimination of FOBTs.