F40, the group that campaigns for fairer funding for education, today welcomed a statement made by the Prime Minister at Parliamentary Questions confirming that the extra £390m extra cash given to some of the worst funded local authorities to boost school budgets in 2015-16 will be baselined in budgets for future years.
The additional funding was given to 69 authorities in 2015-16 and the Conservatives included reference to baselining the cash in their election manifesto, along with a wider commitment to introducing a fairer funding formula for allocating cash to schools across England.
The Conservative Party manifesto committed to the introduction of fairer funding and also the base-lining of an extra £390 million announced by the Coalition Government as a down-payment for 2015-16 to help narrow the funding gap.
Cllr Ivan Ould, the group’s chairman and Graham Stuart MP, who last month was elected as the group’s Conservative Vice Chairman, welcomed the announcement.
Ivan Ould said: I am extremely pleased that the Prime Minister, who himself represents an area with poor funding, has committed to the baselining of the extra £390m. That is confirmation of one manifesto commitment, leaving us awaiting action on the second promise – a new national funding formula.
“Two weeks ago we had a very constructive discussion with Sam Gyimah, the Education Minister and it was clear that he was very sympathetic to our arguments about unfair funding for education, though he couldn’t give a commitment. The fact that the PM has included that promise in a Parliamentary announcement is quite significant, indicating that fair funding is now at the top of the agenda.”
Graham Stuart added: I am delighted by the Prime Minister’s response to my question at PMQs today. I asked him to confirm that the £390m of extra funding awarded for England’s lowest funded local authorities in 2015-16 will be incorporated into baseline funding for future years, and he said it would be. This is the first time the government has formally confirmed its manifesto pledge to make this extra funding a permanent part of the school funding settlement.
“School funding reform is crucial to deliver fairness for our children, which is why the commitment is so important. It is morally indefensible that children in schools in many local authority areas, including my own patch – the East Riding of Yorkshire – continue to receive considerably less for their education each year than children on other, often neighbouring areas.
Last year Ministers committed the extra £390 million to help reduce some of the unfairness in school funding in some of the worse funded areas. Of this sum, around £210m was allocated to authorities in f40 membership.
Ivan Ould added: “The existing school funding model has no rationale and is unfair to pupils in a range of authorities, both urban and rural. School funding has become more and more unfair over time, and the inconsistencies in funding for individual schools with similar characteristics across the country are too great.
“The ultimate goal is to see the introduction of a new national funding formula. This would be a transformative achievement for pupils across in low funded authorities and that is why I am so determined we should overcome every obstacle to achieve this.
“Some months ago, f40 presented its initial thoughts to the government on what a new funding formula might look like and our finance experts are currently working on a revised and updated model which will be ready in the near future.”