Labour and Lib Dems announce general election school cash pledges

10 May 17

Labour and the Liberal Democrats have today separately announced multibillion pound election funding plans to invest in schools in England.

The Labour Party claims it will end cuts to education through £19.4bn it would raise by reversing the Conservative Party’s cuts to corporation tax.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to give £4.8bn per year for English schools by 2021/22, as part of £5.66bn additional annual funding across the UK by the end of the parliament.

Liberal Democrats have said they will plough £7bn into education to “reverse crippling Conservative cuts to school budgets”.

They said their “fully costed” plans will not be revealed until their manifesto is published, although the BBC report this would be partly funded by remaining in the single market.

Corbyn has also promised his party would give schools £355m a year to stop any budget loses under the new school funding formula.

The Lib Dem announcement includes funding over the next parliament for protecting per pupil funding in real terms in schools [£3.3bn],  further education per pupil funding in real terms [£660m] and ensuring no school loses out from the National Funding Formula [£1.26bn].

Labour has also proposed restoring education maintenance allowance for college students, which it has said would cost £582m, and creating a National Education Service, which would give people access to education ‘from the cradle to the grave’.

It has also said it will reduce class sizes to under 30 for all five, six and seven year olds at a capital investment cost of £8.4bn in addition to £13.8bn to bring the school estate up to standard.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said: “We will invest in schools and in our young people.”

Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat shadow education secretary, said her party’s funding promise “would ensure no school and no child loses out”.

David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “Jeremy Corbyn can’t deliver any of this – they’re just made up promises on the back of nonsensical spending plans.”

Corbyn intends to raise the headline rate of corporation tax from its current 19% to 21% in 2018/19, 24% in 2019/20 and 26% in 2020/21 – which he says will still leave it at the lowest rate in the G7.

Gauke added: “The Lib Dems are no better and won’t even tell people about the tax rises they would bring in.”

Luke Sibieta, from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, on Labour’s proposals, said: "These commitments would represent a significant increase in education spending and would leave the school sector insulated from cuts made to most other areas of public service spending.”

An IFS report in April highlighted that schools are facing real terms cuts despite government commitments to raise the overall schools budget to £42bn in 2019/20 – a record high.

The think-tank has warned that the government’s overhaul of the funding system for schools would create “winners  and losers”.

A recent story in the Evening Standard indicated senior Tory figures were urging Theresa May to abandon the new funding plan before the general election.

The pledge for increased funding to the department for education follows a public accounts committee report which slammed current cost-saving plans as “dangerous”.

Today’s Lib Dem guarantee of £7bn for education follows a pledge of £6bn for the NHS and social care made over the weekend – that policy would be paid for through an immediate 1p rise on all rates of income tax.

Labour has promised to raise NHS pay, scrapping the 1% pay cap and reversing the end to bursaries.

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