Liberal Democrats

REVEALED: Secret Tory plans to slash education funding by £13.3bn – Laws

New damning evidence has lifted the lid on Conservative plans to take an axe to the schools budget in the next parliament, David Laws has said.

Private briefing notes photographed yesterday show the Tories have refused to rule out slashing the schools budget after the general election.

Documents flashed by William Hague during a press conference revealed Conservative frontbenchers were told to dodge questions about whether the education budget would be cut.

It comes as Lib Dem analysis shows the Tories would need to slash the education budget by a quarter by 2020 to keep pace with their plans for public spending.

Unlike the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives have not committed to protecting funding for schools, nurseries and colleges in the next parliament.

Our research, based on House of Commons library figures, has found that this means the education budget could be slashed by £13.3bn a year by the end of the next parliament.

The methodology is set out in the ‘Notes to editors’ below.

Such drastic cuts would have a profound impact on schools and the life chances of children. For example, applied evenly across DfE spending, cuts on this scale could mean:

·        More than £9bn cut from schools funding – the equivalent of scrapping the funding for 2m pupils.

·        About £640m cut from the Pupil Premium – the equivalent of 36,000 teaching assistants or 920,000 fewer pupils receiving 12 weeks of one-to-one tuition.

·        About £775m cut from early years – the equivalent of 58,000 3-4-year-olds and 66,000 2-year-olds from low income families losing their free childcare entitlement.

·        Just over £1.6bn cut from DfE’s 16-19-year-old budget – the equivalent of 405,000 young adults having their funding ended.

·        Just under £13m cut from the Early Years Pupil Premium – the equivalent of 42,000 3-4-year-olds losing their additional funding.

Labour has also failed to rule out major cuts to schools, colleges and nurseries.

Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws said:

“The Tories have now revealed their true colours for all to see. They want to slash spending on education that’s desperately needed to provide children a fair and equal opportunity to succeed.

“A Tory-shaped £13.3bn black hole in education spending will jeopardise future job prospects for our country’s children, and jeopardise our long term economic stability.

“Unlike the Conservatives and Labour, the Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting cradle to college spending in the Department for Education. 

“We believe that giving every child the best possible start in life is the best way to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

 “Education spending is a real investment – good for growth and essential for creating a fairer society.

“The Liberal Democrats will cut less than the Conservatives and borrow less than Labour.

 “We are committed to eliminating the deficit by 2017/18, but unlike the Conservatives we believe some of that should come from tax rises on the very wealthy and that, once the deficit is eliminated, public spending should rise with economic growth.

“The Conservatives are not only committed to eliminating the deficit, but also running a surplus, and bizarrely, giving away a further £7bn in unfunded tax cuts for the rich and not raising any taxes 

“That means George Osborne’s axe will make much deeper cuts in unprotected departments than is necessary to balance the books.

“The Conservatives have not committed to protecting funding for schools, nurseries and colleges in the next parliament. George Osborne should come clean about what Conservative cuts will mean for children and parents.

“A Conservative majority Government would be a serious risk to our education system. Such drastic cuts would have a profound impact on the life chances of children. They would also completely undermine any claims the Conservatives make to being committed to raising standards.”

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