Friday 2 April 2021 / 10:30 PM Education / Kate Green

Conservatives’ stealth cut to school funding shows “disregard” for children’s futures

Labour is today warning that the Conservatives’ stealth cut to school budgets shows Ministers’ “disregard” for children’s futures as we recover from the pandemic.

Local authorities are set to lose out on millions in pupil premium funding – allocated to support children on free school meals or who are looked after to achieve at school – as government funding changes come into force.

Labour analysis of freedom of information requests reveals that almost 30,000 children across a quarter of local authorities will miss out on extra support to help them fulfil their potential. Nationally this suggests that as many as 120,000 children could be missing out on support worth up to £133 million.

Conservative Ministers have changed the date for calculating the funding meaning any child who has become eligible for free school meals since 1st October 2020 will miss out. With increasing eligibility expected as the November lockdown and Christmas restrictions hit household budgets, thousands of children are on course to lose out on extra support.

In a speech to the NASUWT conference, Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, will say the changes amount to “a stealth cut to school budgets at a time when children need more support than ever,” showing the Conservatives are out of touch with parents who want schools to be well resourced to provide support and opportunities for their children.

Ministers have refused to disclose the level of funding that schools will miss out on, yet FOIs by Labour reveal that for local authorities such as Bristol and Liverpool this could be up to £1.8 million and £1.6 million in funding respectively. Schools across the North East have warned they are likely to lose out on between £5 million and £7 million in funding.

Across the country pupils eligible for the pupil premium funding are also those most likely to have struggled to learn during lockdown, been left without devices due to the Government’s delayed laptop distribution and completed fewer hours of learning each day compared with their peers.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“The Conservatives’ stealth cut to school budgets shows disregard for children’s futures as we recover from this pandemic.

“The Government’s mishandling of the Covid crisis has kept children out of school, missing out on learning and time with friends, and now they are cutting support that would help children most likely to have struggled with learning over the last year.

“The Conservatives have neglected children through this pandemic and now risk leaving them behind in our recovery.”