West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas presses Chancellor on schools’ funding

Increases in costs for items such as National Insurance, pension contributions and pay awards means that funding for local schools is not keeping up with the outgoings they are having to pay, says West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas. 

Mr Thomas, who says that House of Commons Library figures show that overall school costs rose by 3.4 per cent in 2016-17 and will have increased by 8.7 per cent by 2019-20, has tabled a parliamentary question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phil Hammond, on Tuesday, asking him what discussions he has had with Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for Education, about school budgets.

“The majority of schools in West Cornwall are rated good or outstanding and this is due to the hard work and determination of teaching staff and their heads,” said Mr Thomas.

“However, government funding for schools has not kept up with increases in costs – I need to know what message I can take back to local school heads who are under enormous pressure.

“They are having to juggle the conflicting demands of continually raising educational standards while at the same time being expected to reduce their costs.”

Mr Thomas is in regular contact with the heads of both primary and secondary schools in West Cornwall and earlier this year arranged for Schools Minister Nick Gibb to visit West Cornwall to meet a number of them when they could air their concerns.

He added that he would continue to offer schools support to ensure they secure the funding they require.

The House of Commons Library figures are based on a report produced by the National Audit Office at the end of last year in which they concluded that:

  • National Insurance increases would add 1.7% to school costs on average in 2016-17 rising to 1.8% in each subsequent year
  • Changes to pension contributions would add 0.4% in each year
  • Annual pay awards and salary increases would add 0.9% to costs in 2016-17 increasing each year (in cumulative terms) to 4.4% in 2019-20
  • The Apprenticeship Levy will increase costs by 0.4% in each year from 2017-18
  • Inflationary pressures on non-staff spending increase costs by 0.3% in 2016-17increasing to 1.6% in 2019-20
  • Taken together these cost pressures would add 3.4% to costs in 2016-17 rising to 8.7% (compared to the 2015-16 baseline) in 2019-20.