Tory and Lib Dem plans would ‘freeze education spending for 16 and 18 year olds'

1 Jun 17

Conservative and Liberal Democrat plans would mean a real-terms freeze for education funding per pupil for 16 to 18 year olds, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

While Labour’s general election manifesto pledge offers an 8% real-terms increase in funding per pupil for 16 to 18 year olds, the think-tank concluded.

The IFS has issued a briefing today highlighting the “clear differences” in funding outlined in by the three main parties.

Under Labour’s manifesto plans the think-tank says spending per 16 to 18-year-old pupil would increase to £5,800.

The IFS showed that spending on education for 16 to 18 year olds had suffered in recent decades.

In 1990/91 spending on that age group was 50% higher than spending per secondary school pupil but by 2017–18 it was 13% lower.

This was the result of cuts in 1990s and slow growth in 2000s, after 2010 it was one of the only areas of education spending to be cut by the coalition of government.

Further real-terms cuts were planned in the latest Spending Review in 2015, which would have reduced spending per 16-18 year-old pupil to £5,200 by the end of the Spending Review period in 2019-20.

This would have returned it to around its 2002 per-pupil level, and lower than the level seen at the start of the 1990s.

However in this year’s budget the government committed £420m to reform education for this age group, introducing ‘T-levels’ for technical education, cutting down vocational qualifications to 15 different lines of learning and increasing the number of teaching hours on some technical routes by more than 50%.

This IFS stated: “If, after the Spending Review period, spending per pupil would - excluding the additional £420m - have been frozen in cash terms between 2019-20 and 2021-22 (as was the case between 2010-11 and 2019-20), then total spending per pupil including the extra £420m would be about the same real-terms level in 2021-22 as it is today.”

The IFS notes that the Tories have reaffirmed these plans in their manifesto which are similar to the pledges from the Lib Dems.

Both of the Conservative and Labour proposals for spending on 16-18 year old are more generous than their respective plans for school spending, but in each case, spending per student in 16-18 education would remain about 10% lower than it would be for secondary schools.

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