Nick Clegg responds as more Labour councillors deride extra money for poor pupils

Following Manchester Labour’s extraordinary attack on the pupil premium – describing the policy as a “sham” – news reaches The Voice via Lib Dem councillor Steve Beasant that a Labour cabinet member on North East Lincolnshire Council has joined his Manchester colleagues in their criticism.

As Paul Walter reported earlier, Nick Clegg was asked about the comments of Manchester’s Labour councillors at Tuesday’s Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions by Lib Dem MP Duncan Hames. Here’s the full exchange:

Duncan Hames (Chippenham) (LD): Wiltshire schools have long felt short-changed by funding allocations for education, so they will welcome the doubling of pupil premium moneys for our schools in Wiltshire to more than £5 million next year. Now that Labour councillors in Manchester have voted for the pupil premium to be scrapped, will the Deputy Prime Minister consider giving our schools next year some of the more than £80 million of pupil premium that their council has rejected?

Deputy Prime Minister: The pupil premium, which by the end of this Parliament will be £2.5 billion of extra money to help schools that are educating children from the most challenging backgrounds, is a very powerful, progressive policy, and I am very proud that we have delivered it, as a coalition Government. We have been searching in vain for months to find out what the Labour party would actually cut in public expenditure. Now, we have the answer: Labour councillors want to cut the pupil premium that benefits some of the most deprived children in this country. That is progressive politics for you!

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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  • Tish, Louise, Labour don’t want to keep people in poverty. Far better* to keep them a smidge above poverty, with the spectre of the Tories taking away a tiny bit and pushing you back under. Let people get too far away from poverty, or they might gain their own voices and make their own choices.

    * from the point of view of socialists seeking re-election

  • What a surprise from the Labour council that was happy to make 2500 redundant to help Labour win the Oldham East byelection.

  • Of course, as I’m sure you know really, the pupil premium isn’t actually an increase, or “additional money” – it simply replaces a cut to the schools budget, so you’re back where you started. And it comes from elsewhere in the education budget.

    See Channel 4’s Factcheck.

  • Dave, I think you’ve misunderstood. The pupil premium was always set to rise every year, and this was understood at the time it was announced at last year’s Spending Review, and factored into the Factcheck article I posted. When Nick Clegg refers to £2.5 billion of extra money, he means that it will rise to 2.5 billion by the end of the Parliament – it isn’t at £2.5 billion now – next year it will be worth £1.25 billion. This means that every year the government gets to announce that it’s risen, but it’s not a rise over and above expectations, it’s just the rolling out of a pre-announced policy. This can be seen in the fact that this month’s press release announcing an increase has the same £2.5 billion 2014-15 figure as last year’s spending review.

    In other words, the Factcheck analysis is still correct.

  • If you are poor, your chance of getting 5 good GCSEs including E&M is 44% in London, and 29% in Manchester. I think Manchester cllrs really should concentrate on running their own schools a bit better. (The underlying source of these stats is the National Pupil Database)

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