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BUDGET HIDES £1 BILLION “FREE SCHOOL SLUSH FUND”

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
GMB REVEALS HIDDEN £1 BILLION “FREE SCHOOL SLUSH FUND” IN CHANCELLOR'S BUDGET
 
Prime Minister is being selective with the truth as well as being selective with school admissions, union says
 
Analysis by GMB, the union for school support staff, has revealed that the Chancellor has set aside over £1 billion in a five year “slush fund” for the Government’s controversial “free schools” programme.
 
Although today’s Budget Red Book says £320 million would be allocated to establishing free schools, including selective schools this Parliament, the Budget spending tables show that there is a massive increase planned for after 2020 [1].
 
The detailed Budget tables show that in the first full year of the next Parliament, £655 million of capital funding is set aside for the free school programme - meaning that over £1 billion has been set aside to potentially fund Theresa May's grammar school obsession.
 
It comes as just £260 million in new money was set aside for maintaining the condition of existing schools over the next two years in today’s funding announcements, with no projections of further funding in capital investment for existing schools beyond 2020.
 
Official figures show that pay for teaching assistants in free schools is £2,000 lower on average than in academies and local authority maintained schools. [2]
 
Schools still face an 8% real-terms per pupil funding cut by the end of this Parliament, according to the National Audit Office [3].
 
Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary said:
 
“The Prime Minister says she wants to support all schools, but the flow of money tells a very different story. She is being as selective with the truth as she is with school admissions policies.
 
“Without fanfare, the Chancellor has stashed away a £1 billion slush fund to provide for the Government's free school and grammar school obsession.
 
"These figures reveal the true extent of the Prime Minister’s plot to impose an unneeded, unwanted and damaging top-down imposition of selective education.
 
“The National Audit Office has said £6.7 billion is required to bring existing school buildings up to scratch and yet the Government press ahead with diverting money to its pet projects. Our schools simply cannot afford such neglect - and yet the Government seems dead set on running them into the ground.
 
"They are looking to the past and trying to turn the clock back - when they could be providing education fit for the future and funding it properly.”
 
ENDS
 
Contact: GMB press office on 07958 156846 or at press.office@gmb.org.uk
 
NOTES TO EDITORS
 
[1] Source - HMT Table 2.1: Spring Budget 2017 policy decisions, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spring-budget-2017-documents/spring-budget-2017
 

Budget 2017 Spending Decisions, Education (£ms)

             

(-) New spending

             

(+) New revenue take

             
 

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

 

Total

16-19 Technical Education: implement Sainsbury reforms

0

-60

-115

-250

-445

 

-870

Education capital: extend free schools programme

-20

-30

-50

-280

-655

 

-1,035

Education capital: school investment

0

-130

-130

0

0

 

-260

Free school transport: expand eligibility to selective schools

0

-5

-5

-5

-5

 

-20

 
 
[2] Official figures show that pay for teaching assistants in free schools is £2,000 lower on average than in academies and local authority maintained schools. Commons Written Answers, 25/01/17 http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2017-01-25/61630/
 
[3] Schools still face an 8% real-terms per pupil funding cut by the end of this Parliament, according to the NAO, National Audit Office, December 2016 (https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Financial-sustainability-of-schools.pdf, page 4)
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