Budget boosts health and education

8 Mar 01
Health and education were the big winners in Gordon Brown's Budget as each received an extra £1bn from the £23bn budget surplus he revealed to Parliament on March 7.

09 March 2001

In what was interpreted as the unofficial opening salvo for a May 3 general election campaign, the chancellor promised the money in addition to the extra billions announced in last year's Spending Review. This means that by 2004, spending on public services will increase by 3.7% instead of the 3.4% trumpeted last July.

Much of the money being ploughed into education will be given directly to schools, with across-the-board rises in the level of direct grants they receive. From next month, grants to primaries will go up by £3,000 to £13,000 for small schools and by £13,000 to £63,000 for larger institutions. Grants to smaller secondaries will be boosted by £11,000 to £68,000, while larger high schools will see their grants go up by £25,000 to £115,000.

Brown told MPs these increases would give head teachers more control over the running of their schools.

'[It will] allow them to make their own decisions as they meet the nation's educational targets,' he said.

He also signalled that a £200m fund spread over three years would be set up to recruit and retain teachers to combat the falling number of people working in the profession. Education Secretary David Blunkett is set to announce details of the scheme next week.

But National Union of Teachers general secretary Doug McEvoy said the measure was not enough. 'Only a limited number of teachers who have left the profession are likely to return, but in a desperate situation every little helps.'

A parallel £135m fund to boost the recruitment of nurses and persuade existing staff to continue in the profession will be launched at the same time, Brown said.

In addition, he told the Commons that for the next three years the 200 acute hospital trusts would each receive annual grants of between £500,000 and £1m to spend on capital repairs and investment in new equipment.

GP primary care trusts and the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales will be allocated funds in the coming days. 'We have made our choice – more investment not less… tax cuts we can afford, schools and hospitals first,' Brown said. 'Our priority has been and will be Britain's public services.'


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