I commented yesterday on the good deal Chris Huhne has got for environmental spending (due to go up by a fifth in cash terms over the spending review period). The best settlement for any ministerial area however looks to have been secured for Sarah Teather’s early years education brief – assisted by Nick Clegg’s own repeated insistence on prioritising the area.
Here’s what Sarah Teather wrote yesterday to fellow MPs about the education settlement:
Today’s Comprehensive Spending Review involved some very difficult decisions that we had to take to deal with the black hole in public finances left to us by Labour. But it shows the character of this coalition government that, while making these difficult decisions, we have done everything we can to protect frontline services, help the most disadvantaged and accelerate social mobility.
Today we have started to deliver on our promise of giving every child a fair start. We will:
· Introduce a Pupil Premium for every disadvantaged child, wherever they live. As we promised in our manifesto, this will be £2.5 billion per year by the end of this Parliament. This Pupil Premium will be on top of existing funding for schools. Taken together with the Pupil Premium, this means that the budget for schools will rise, even taking into account inflation.
· Extend 15 hours per week free early education to all disadvantaged two year-olds, while keeping the free offer of 15 hours per week early education for every three and four year-old. We will be spending £300 million more on this by the end of the Parliament.
· Keep Sure Start a universal service, while focusing more effort on reaching those families who need it most. Funding for Sure Start services will be maintained in cash terms, including new investment in Sure Start Health Visitors.
Education is the engine of social mobility. That is why we, as Liberal Democrats, made manifesto commitments to extend childcare for all and provide extra funding for a Pupil Premium for every disadvantaged child.
Today’s Spending Review shows that Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, and the Liberal Democrats across government are delivering on their promises to give every child a fair start.
The Department for Education’s news release on its settlement summarised it thus:
The schools budget will increase in real terms in each year of the Spending Review period. But economies in other areas mean that there will be a total real reduction in Departmental resource spending of 3% by 2014-15. Following on from the decision to halt Building Schools for the Future (BSF), capital spending will be reduced by 60% in real terms by 2014-15. The average annual capital budget over the period will be higher than the average annual capital budget in the 1997-98 to 2004-05 period