UK: Education Budget Faces 14% Cuts

Education spending in the UK is being slashed by more than 14%  – the largest cut since the 1950s, Britain’s leading tax and spending experts have warned, writes Jessica Shepherd at the Guardian.

Researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) have calculated that public spending on UK education will fall by 14.4% between 2010-11 and 2014-15 in their study – Trends in Education and Schools Spending.

Universities will suffer a 40% cut, shedding some light n the reasons behind the higher tuition fees of up to £9,000.

The IFS study found that, since the late 1990s, education spending had risen “substantially”. While Labour was in power, public spending on education moved from universities towards schools, the under-fives and further education, the study shows.

The schools budget was increasing by £3.6bn over the next four years and the pupil premium – the £488 given to schools for each pupil eligible for free school meals – would rise over the next three years.

Luke Sibieta, senior research economist at the IFS and co-author of the report, said about 30 per cent of primary schools and 40 per cent of secondary schools would see significant real-term cuts as their budgets failed to keep pace with rising costs, writes Tim Ross at the Telegraph.

“These are unquestionably the more affluent, less deprived schools,” he said. A school with only 5 per cent of pupils entitled to free school meals would receive a budget increase of just 0.5 per cent, he added.

Chris Keates, the general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said the cuts would have “massive implications” for the quality of children’s education.

“So much for Michael Gove saying education was protected,” she said. “It clearly is back to the future with this government.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said ministers had to take “tough decisions to reduce the deficit”.

“The schools’ budget is actually increasing by £3.6 billion over the next four years,” he said. “This protects per pupil funding levels and includes the new pupil premium, which provides an extra £488 for every child on free school meals and which will rise over the next three years”

He said the Government was right to look at the spending on school buildings because much of it was being spent on red tape and consultants.