Counteracting cuts to schools ‘will take billions of pounds’

20 Jun 19

Reversing cuts to school spending in England will require a one-off cash injection of up to £3.8bn and ongoing investment of around £1bn over the next three years, according to analysis.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has set out a range of calculations setting out the cost of counteracting cuts dating back to 2015 and 2009 – and the extra cost of protecting that higher spend per pupil in real terms up to 2022-23.

The figures were, release on Tuesday,  just as Conservative leadership candidates have been making pledges to reverse past cuts and/or protect per pupil spending over the course of the next Spending Review.

Past IFS work has highlighted that per pupil funding directly allocated to schools in England fell by four per cent in real terms between 2015-16 and 2017-18, the analysis by research fellow at the IFS Luke Sibieta said.

Total school spending per pupil (incorporating sixth form funding and local authority spending) has fallen by 8% in real terms between 2009-10 and 2017-18.

As such, the IFS has calculated that, in terms of all school funding for pupils aged 5-16 in England (including the Dedicated School Grant, Teacher Pay Grant and Pupil Premium) reversing cuts of four per cent would cost £1.8 billion at 2019-2020 prices.

Reversing cuts of 8% would cost £3.8bn at 2019-20 prices.

However, the extra cost of protecting that new higher spend per pupil in real-terms up to 2022-23 would cost a further £1bn in respect of the four per cent cuts and a further £1.1bn in respect of the 8% cuts.

“We don’t yet know how many years the next spending review will cover but protecting per pupil funding at these levels up to 2022-23 would require further spending increases of just over £1bn in today’s prices due to expected rises in pupil numbers,” says Sibieta.

The IFS also set out how further education has been affected by spending cuts.

Between 2010-11 and 2017-18, college spending per student fell by over 8% in real terms and funding per student in school sixth forms fell by 25%.

This sector has received the largest cuts to spending per pupil over the last few years, Sibieta said.

Given an expected total spend of £5.6bn on further education colleges, school sixth forms and sixth form colleges in 2019-20, the IFS has said reversing cuts of eight per cent would require a £480m uplift.

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