School Funding

Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 11:23 am on 13th March 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools 11:23 am, 13th March 2014

With permission, I would like to make a statement about the action we are taking today to deliver fair funding in English schools.

The school funding system that we inherited is unfair. Previous Governments knew that the system was unfair but failed to act to reform it. For too long, the school funding system has been based on historical data that were out of date and no longer reflected pupils’ needs. That has resulted in a system that is opaque, overly complex, and, frankly, unfair to pupils, parents and teachers.

Sometimes, similar schools just miles apart can be funded at very different levels, merely because they happen to be in different local authority areas. In other cases, schools with many disadvantaged pupils can end up being funded at a level that is well below that of a nearby school in a more affluent catchment. For example, a school in Birmingham in which only 3% of pupils receive free school meals gets higher funding per head than a school in Shropshire in which over 30% of pupils are eligible for free school meals. That unfair and inefficient allocation of funding to pupils stops us making sure that all children get the best possible teaching.

Many right hon. and hon. Members have campaigned for fairness, and the coalition has made it clear that it not only recognises the problem but will act decisively to address it. I pay tribute to the many hon. Friends who have campaigned strongly on the subject for many years: my hon. Friends the Members for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey), for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), for Worcester (Mr Walker), for Norwich South (Simon Wright), for Chippenham (Duncan Hames), for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly), for Gloucester (Richard Graham), and for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), and many others.

I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend Annette Brooke, who tells me that she first raised the issue 13 years ago in her maiden speech. Most of her campaigns deliver success over a shorter time scale. I hope she will be pleased with the announcement today.

We have already made more progress than any recent Government in moving towards a fair funding system. We have made significant progress at a local level, where we inherited an unnecessarily complicated system. Our reforms for 2013-14 and 2014-15 mean that the system is now fairer, simpler and more transparent, with at least 80% of funding now allocated on the basis of the need of each pupil within a school. These local reforms represent a significant step forward, but we now want to make funding fairer at the national level by addressing the distribution of funding between local authorities.

The Government announced in the spending review last summer that they would consult on how to allocate schools funding in a fairer way, and we will now do this. Today I can confirm that in 2015-16 we will take the first huge step towards delivering this fairer national funding. This will be the first time in a decade that funding has been allocated to local areas on the basis of the actual characteristics of their pupils and schools, rather than simply on the basis of historical levels of spending.

Given the importance to schools of stability and certainty in these difficult economic times, we have decided not to set out a multi-year process of converging all local authorities towards a single funding formula. We have concluded that the right time to do this would be when there are multi-year public spending plans, so we can give greater certainty to schools. But the case for action is so strong that we intend to act immediately—I know that Kevin Brennan will be pleased to hear this—to deliver a substantial £350 million boost to schools in the least fairly funded local authorities in the country. We will be able to achieve this—Opposition Members will welcome this as well—without any local authority receiving a cut to its per pupil schools budget. The extra money will be allocated in April 2015, for the 2015-16 financial year, delivering in this Parliament, and not, as previous Governments have done, talking and then delaying until the future. No local authority or school will lose from this proposal, but around four in 10 areas will gain. We are able to deliver this significant boost by using money from within our protected schools budget and because of additional money from the Treasury. This is only the start of the transition to fairer funding and eventually a national funding formula, but it is the biggest step towards fairer schools funding in a decade.

Today, the Secretary of State and I are publishing a consultation on fairer school funding in 2015, and I will explain briefly our proposals in this document. To allocate the additional funding fairly, we are proposing that for 2015-16 every local authority will attract a minimum funding level for every pupil and school. We propose to set a minimum funding level for the basic amount that all pupils should attract; for deprived pupils; for pupils with English as an additional language; for pupils with low levels of attainment on entering school; and for pupils who have been looked after—for example, in foster care. We also propose to set a minimum level of funding that all schools should attract, regardless of size, to help with fixed costs, such as employing a head teacher, and to help smaller schools. I plan to set a minimum level of additional funding that schools in sparsely populated areas that are vital to serving rural communities should attract.

We will also, of course, apply higher funding to certain areas where teacher pay costs are higher. Our consultation document sets out our proposals in full for all the minimum funding levels. Where there is a gap between a local authority's budget and what it needs to meet our new minimum funding levels, the Department for Education will give the local authority additional funding to close that gap in 2015-16. Where a local authority's budget already exceeds what it needs to meet our minimum funding levels, we will not make any change to the amount of per pupil funding that it receives from the DFE. I confirm that no local authority and no school will receive less funding per pupil as a result of these proposals.

The proposals will mean that local authorities that currently receive unfairly low funding, such as Cambridgeshire, will have their funding significantly boosted. Based on the indicative figures set out in our consultation document, Cambridgeshire will see a long-awaited increase to its schools budget of about 7%. That will increase Cambridgeshire’s per pupil funding rate from about £3,950 a year to £4,225, an uplift in 2015-16 of £275 a pupil. Based on current estimates, that equates to a boost of about £20 million for schools in Cambridgeshire. I am sure that the announcement will be welcomed by Cambridgeshire MPs, including the Leader of the House and my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge, and their constituents who have campaigned for many years for further funding.

Cambridgeshire is just one of 60 local authorities that, based on current estimates, stand to gain from today’s historic announcement of an extra £350 million in funding for schools. I can tell hon. Members that by percentage rise the top 15 of the 60 authorities are likely to be Bromley, Cambridgeshire, Brent, Sutton, Northumberland, South Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Merton, Croydon, Bournemouth, Buckinghamshire, Cheshire West and Chester, Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Devon. In addition, areas such as Norfolk would receive an extra £16 million, Derbyshire £14 million and Surrey almost £25 million. Of course, many traditionally low-funded rural authorities are on that list, but hon. Members will want to note that areas such as Blackpool, Brent, Bury and, indeed, Stoke-on-Trent would gain under these plans. I hope that Members on both sides of the House will welcome these announcements.

I know that the plans will certainly be welcomed in many schools across the country, scores of which have been generously funded by the coalition Government at a time of austerity, with a £2.5 billion pupil premium being added to a per pupil budget that is protected in cash terms. We understand, however, that schools, like all public sector organisations, face cost pressures from pay, energy price inflation and the necessary implementation of the proposals of the Hutton report on paying for high-quality public sector pensions. The changes will ensure that the least well-funded schools can now not just deal with such pressures but spend extra money to improve attainment.

The consultation document we are publishing today sets out our proposals in detail. A copy of the document will be placed in the House Library and in the Vote Office. We welcome input and feedback from schools, local authorities and the wider public. I look forward to considering their views before we announce final arrangements for school funding for 2015-16.

Today’s £350 million increase in funding represents a huge step forward towards fair funding in English schools and will make a real difference on the ground. It delivers fairness without creating instability, uncertainty or cuts in better-funded areas. We remain committed to further funding reform once the long-term spending plans are available after the next spending review. I commend the proposals to the House.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Education) 11:32 am, 13th March 2014

I thank the Minister for the statement and the small amount of notice we had of its contents.

There are growing pressures on education funding and demographic trends are dictating the need for more school places, with the National Audit Office reporting the need for an additional 250,000 places by next year. That has big implications for the allocation of education funding.

Ministers have shown a degree of complacency in addressing the primary school places crisis. In less than a month, parents will learn the outcome of their application for their child’s primary school place and we know that under this Government we have seen a doubling of the number of classes with more than 30 pupils and—do not worry, I will not take up 1,400 words, as the Minister did—a trebling in the number of primary schools with more than 800 pupils. The pressures are real, which is why it is so alarming that according to NAO data two thirds of all places created by the free school programme are being diverted from areas of high and severe need for primary places. In secondary schools, only 19% of places—[Interruption.] Government Members should listen to this—they should listen with their ears, rather than their mouths. In secondary schools, only 19% of places are in areas of need. That cannot be right, particularly on a day when another free school has gone into special measures.

We have to take any statements on finance from the Schools Minister with a pinch of salt, because he has form. He used to claim when in opposition that the pupil premium would be additional money in real terms for schools, but, as he admitted today in his statement, it is not additional money in real terms. What are the implications of the statement for the pupil premium and for non-local authority schools?

The idea of a national funding formula has merit, but it must be debated openly and transparently. The coalition has said that it is committed to a new national funding formula by 2015-16. Can we assume from today’s statement that this has been filed away in the drawer marked “Too difficult”, and that there will be no new comprehensive funding formula under this increasingly impotent Government?

The Minister claimed that previous Governments did nothing on this. That is nonsense. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that a new national funding formula will have winners and losers. If Ministers are pursuing the national funding formula, they must do so in an open and transparent way and be clear about who will lose out. So can the right hon. Gentleman confirm—[Interruption.] Hon. Members are living in cloud cuckoo land if they think no one is going to lose out. Can the Minister confirm that there are no losers from this announcement because he has decided to leave the bad news for those he intends to hit with cuts, including his hon. Friends who are so voluble, until after the next general election?

If this is genuinely new money for education, it will have a Barnett formula consequential for the devolved Administrations, which I know will be of interest to all political parties in the devolved nations, including the Minister’s own party. Can he confirm that this announcement contains new money from the Treasury, and say how much the Barnett consequential of that new money will be for the devolved Administrations and how much he is taking from his existing budget? It was not clear from his statement how much is new Treasury money, and how much he is cutting from the schools budget to pay for this part of the announcement. I would be grateful if he clarified those figures.

The Minister said in his statement, “We are able to deliver this significant boost by using money from within our protected schools budget and because of additional money from the Treasury.” The House deserves to know how much will come from each source, where the money is being taken from within the protected schools budget and what the Barnett consequentials are. We learned this week that Ministers have been known to put the cart before the horse in devising policy, and only then to think how they might pay for it. Can the Minister assure us that this is fully costed and not simply another botched spending announcement from the Department for Education?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I am grateful, I suppose, to the hon. Gentleman for his response, but all of us in the House are still none the wiser about whether the Labour party supports the proposals I am announcing today. Perhaps there could be some indication of this from the Labour Front Bench. Do I take it from all those critical comments that Tristram Hunt proposes to send back the money we are going to allocate to Stoke-on-Trent—potentially £4 million to his area? We are unaware from the statement whether the Labour party supports these proposals. Or is Kevin Brennan genuinely embarrassed that his party failed to deal with the issue of underfunded areas year in, year out, in spite of clear evidence of unfair funding throughout the country?

To come to the points that the hon. Gentleman did make, few of which were about the contents of my statement, I do not know how he has the nerve to accuse this Government of complacency over school place planning, when the amount of money that we are putting into basic need is many multiples of the amount that the previous Government put in. How can he talk about complacency when his was a Government who ignored all the forecasts of the Office for National Statistics from 2003 onwards and were taking out 250,000 primary schools places at a time when the population was increasing? That is behind many of the problems that we face in parts of the country today where Labour was closing down places when it should have been funding them.

On the pupil premium, it is clear that we have protected, in cash terms, the settlement for every pupil, and the pupil premium is on top of that. I invite the hon. Gentleman to go to schools across the country, particularly to those in areas of high disadvantage, and try telling them that this is not extra money. It is making a massive difference in some of the most deprived schools. Furthermore, I can confirm that in 2014-15 the pupil premium will rise for primary schools from £900 to £1,300, and for secondary schools to £935. It will give schools thousands and thousands of pounds extra over a young disadvantaged person’s time in education to improve their educational outcomes, and I am very proud of that.

We have also made it clear that the right time to set out the national fair funding formula is when we have multi-year plans, so we can create a sense of certainty. We are not, as previous Governments did, simply kicking this issue into the long grass. For the first time, we are delivering the uplifts that will make a real difference in areas such as Cambridgeshire and the others that I have mentioned. If the hon. Gentleman wants to campaign on that, he is welcome to do so.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Conservative, Forest of Dean

Gloucestershire is one of the lowest funded local authorities, so the Minister of State’s announcement will be very much welcomed by schools in the Forest of Dean and across the county. Will he set out for my benefit the amount of extra funding that we will get in Gloucestershire? The good news in his announcement can be detected in the fact that there are only eight Labour Back Benchers interested in schools funding. That is a triumph and shows the success of his announcement.

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. He notes quite correctly that the Labour party does not like to hear good news on this or on any other issue. I can tell him that the news for Gloucestershire is good. The proposals on which we are consulting today would give almost £10 million extra to Gloucestershire schools. They would potentially increase the per pupil funding rate from just over £4,200 per pupil to £4,331. Furthermore, south Gloucestershire is a gainer from these proposals, gaining more than £8.5 million. Its per pupil funding rate would rise from around £3,969 to £4,217, which is a massive increase that will be welcomed by schools in that area.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Labour, Sefton Central

Under this Government, changes to local government funding have benefited the wealthiest areas at the expense of the areas of greatest deprivation, especially in places such as Sefton and the other metropolitan boroughs. Can the Minister assure us that the same thing will not happen when it comes to school funding?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I completely disagree with the hon. Gentleman. If he goes to some of the most disadvantaged communities in the country, he will find that they are extremely welcoming of the Government’s actions, particularly on the pupil premium that has been put into authorities, some of which were already receiving generous levels of disadvantage funding. Schools in many of those areas welcome the action that we have taken as a coalition Government. They welcome the pupil premium, which, because it follow disadvantage, has gone heavily to the areas he is talking about.

Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Conservative, Huntingdon

This is welcome news for Cambridgeshire. As my right hon. Friend knows, Cambridgeshire receives less funding than anywhere else in the country. That has been really showing in our schools, which have been reducing their teachers and struggling under this unfair funding formula. In the past 10 days alone, 750 of my constituents have signed a petition calling for immediate support. I ask my right hon. Friend to look kindly on Cambridgeshire when he comes to administering his £350 million pot.

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend and I compliment him on the work that he and other county MPs in Cambridgeshire have done to raise the issue. I know that there is real anger in Cambridgeshire about the fact that it has been left as such an unfairly underfunded authority for so many years. I hope that schools in that area will welcome the uplift. The increase on which we are consulting would take the per pupil funding in Cambridgeshire from £3,950 to £4,225, which is an increase of around 7%. That is a significant uplift for its schools.

Photo of Clive Efford Clive Efford Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport)

In my experience, announcements made at the Dispatch Box often sound very fair, but when we look at the detail we find a lot of the devil in there as well. I caution Government Back Benchers to heed those words. Some local authorities are missing out but will receive what is effectively transitional funding. How long will that last? Will they fall off a precipice in 2016 and find themselves severely disadvantaged? What transparency will there be, because it is very important that we are able to scrutinise this, including in relation to capital funding? I am waiting for Corelli college in my constituency to hear from the Education Funding Agency, but it is very difficult to find out by what criteria it is being judged so that I know what to expect when funding is decided. We need more transparency in all cases.

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

This is not overnight funding; we intend to address these issues for the long term. On fairness, I just point out to the hon. Gentleman, as I did in my statement, that the funding will help not only underfunded rural areas, but areas such as Brent, Blackpool, Bury and Stoke-on-Trent. On capital funding, if he has concerns about schools in his constituency, I would be happy to meet him to discuss them.

Photo of Julian Huppert Julian Huppert Liberal Democrat, Cambridge

Cambridgeshire has been underfunded for 30 years now and, at £600 per pupil below the English average, is right at the bottom of the pack. At last this Government are doing something about it, as others have not. On behalf of all those who have campaigned on the issue for so many years, particularly the Cambridgeshire schools forum and Cambridge News, I thank my right hon. Friend the Minister. I urge him to ensure that this actually happens.

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. We are determined to ensure that these changes take place. I congratulate him on being such a robust campaigner for these changes—hardly a week has gone by over the past few years when he has not lobbied me for fair funding for Cambridgeshire. I know that there are schools in the county that are in vision distance of schools in other authorities that are funded in a totally different way. That was always unfair and we are now addressing it.

Photo of Liz Kendall Liz Kendall Shadow Minister (Health) (Care and Older People)

Currently, schools get the pupil premium based on the number of parents who apply for free school meals. If all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 will get a free school meal in future and parents no longer have to apply, how will the pupil premium be allocated?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

As the hon. Lady will know, that is an issue in places, such as Newham and Durham, where the eligibility checking service is being used to ensure that all those pupils still get the pupil premium. In the medium term, I believe that the answer is to move to a more automatic system so that, rather than having to rely on parents applying, we can ensure that the money is delivered automatically. It should not be necessary for parents to have to apply and for schools in some parts of the country to be so reliant on that process, which often means that they do not get the money they deserve. We will certainly ensure that that issue is addressed as we take these reforms forward.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland Conservative, South Swindon

Schools and families in Swindon will warmly welcome this announcement. Will my right hon. Friend outline the extent of the increase that schools in Swindon will enjoy and pay tribute to the work of f40—the Campaign for Fairer Funding in Education—and my hon. Friend Mr Walker, who has worked so hard with many of us on that?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his welcome. Swindon is one of the authorities that will benefit from these changes. It currently receives funding of around £4,100 per pupil. Under the proposals we are announcing today, which we will consult on, that will increase by £100 per pupil, delivering almost £3 million extra to Swindon.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Labour, Halton

Halton is the 27th most deprived borough in England. Is it a gainer under these proposals? Will it gain as much as, say, Cambridge?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

There are 153 authorities, so I will have to write to the hon. Gentleman on that point. He can also pick up a copy of the details from the Vote Office. Given the level of deprivation, his constituency will be receiving a huge amount of pupil premium funding, which was never received under the Government he supported.

Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay Conservative, North East Cambridgeshire

I join my Cambridgeshire colleagues in welcoming this rise, which is much needed by schools in East Cambridgeshire and Fenland in my constituency. Does he agree that parents will not forget the unfair allocation left by the previous Labour Government, which has penalised our schools for the first half of this Parliament?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Cambridgeshire parents will not forget the underfunding under the previous Government, and they will also be worried about what would happen if a Labour Government came back in, because there seems to be a complete absence of commitment to these changes on the part of Labour Members.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

It is good finally to get this statement, but, as my hon. Friend Clive Efford said, the devil will be in the detail in relation to where the money comes from and where it goes to. Given that 16 to 18-year-olds are already funded 22% less than five to 16-year-olds, does this change mean that they will be funded even less, or are they also captured in the concept of fair funding?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

This is an announcement for schools and it is covered by the schools protection provisions.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

There are a lot of 16 to 18-year-olds in schools.

Photo of Andrew Bridgen Andrew Bridgen Conservative, North West Leicestershire

For many years, schools in my county of Leicestershire have bumped along the very bottom of the education funding league tables, in stark contrast to schools in Leicester, which get £700 per year per pupil more than the county. I commend the excellent work of the f40 group, ably championed by my hon. Friend Mr Walker. Teachers, parents and pupils across Leicestershire will welcome this statement, but will my right hon. Friend assure the House that this is the beginning of a movement towards fair funding, not the end of it?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments. As I made clear, this is the first major step towards fair funding, not the last one that we believe is necessary. He will be pleased to know that the proposals that we are issuing for consultation take per-pupil funding in Leicestershire from £3,995 up to £4,197—an increase of over 5%.

Photo of Heidi Alexander Heidi Alexander Opposition Whip (Commons)

We have heard much today about fairer revenue funding for schools, but I would like to press the Minister again about fairer capital funding. When I met him in November, he was confident that he had secured enough money from the Treasury to fund the expansion of primary schools in London to meet rising demand, but in Lewisham we are £27 million short if we are to provide a school place for every child between now and 2017. What guarantee will he give me on funding these expansions?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

At the end of last year we announced a massive allocation of capital for basic need right across the country, with an additional premium for London that was very much welcomed by the London authorities. We have allocated for basic need many multiples of the amount that the previous Labour Government did. London has been a huge gainer. We have increased the period of time for which we allocate the money to three years to allow for forward planning. However, if the hon. Lady is still concerned about the situation in her area, I would be delighted to meet her and go through the figures.

Photo of Annette Brooke Annette Brooke Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party

I welcome the statement and note that it has taken a coalition Government to make some progress on fairer funding for our schools. Given that last year, under its current administration, Poole had the worst key stage 2 results across the country, will my right hon. Friend confirm the position for Poole? Does he agree that any extra money that goes to Poole must be put into our schools to support teachers in improving the outcomes for our children?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Once again, I praise her resilience in campaigning on this issue throughout the long period of the Labour Administration, who ignored the issue. I am pleased that it is a coalition Government who are proposing to raise the amount of funding for Poole from just over £4,000 per pupil to £4,142, which would give Poole over £2.25 million of additional funding.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Education)

The civil service is meant to be independent; this is outrageous.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. If Opposition Front Benchers insist on speaking, it should be sotto voce and not so that the House can hear exactly what the hon. Gentleman has said. He had his go at some length—at sufficient length, in my judgment.

Photo of Diana R. Johnson Diana R. Johnson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

It is very interesting that the Minister is able to give the allocations that are relevant to Government Members, but not those that are relevant to Opposition Members. Will schools in Hull gain from his proposals?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I have mentioned many of the authorities represented by Opposition Members that will gain from the proposals, including Blackpool and many other parts of the country. Of the 153 authorities, 62 will gain. I do not believe that Hull is one of the authorities considered to be underfunded. The hon. Lady can check the precise figures in the papers that are in the Vote Office.

Photo of Therese Coffey Therese Coffey Conservative, Suffolk Coastal

I really welcome the announcement. It is a significant step towards a fairer funding formula, which children in our counties were denied by the previous Government. Labour continues politically to use the education budget for its own areas. I am keen to hear what the announcement will mean for children in Suffolk, if the Minister has that information available.

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

Labour Members are making a lot of noise, which reflects their embarrassment at the fact that this was a problem for years under a Labour Government and they did nothing about it. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman does not like to hear good news, but I can give him some more good news for Suffolk, whose funding will go up by more than £9 million, from £4,241 a pupil to £4,347. [Interruption.] I am sorry that Labour Members cannot take this in a measured way or accept that we are doing the right thing to deliver fair funding.

Photo of Chris Skidmore Chris Skidmore Conservative, Kingswood

Under the current funding regime inherited from Labour, South Gloucestershire is the second-lowest-funded local authority in the country. I have long campaigned for there to be no difference in funding when it comes to areas of deprivation in Kingswood and in neighbouring Bristol, which—this is desperately unfair—gets £750 more per pupil. May I welcome the massive increase in funding for south Gloucestershire pupils and ask the Minister, on behalf of my constituents, what that will mean for pupils in Kingswood?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I am happy to confirm the figure that I mentioned a moment ago to another Gloucestershire MP, my hon. Friend Mr Harper. South Gloucestershire, as my hon. Friend Chris Skidmore correctly indicates, is one of the areas that have been underfunded for a long time. Under the proposals on which we are consulting, its funding will go up from the current £3,969 per pupil to an indicative figure of £4,217. That 6.3% increase is significant and I know that parents in my hon. Friend’s constituency will welcome it, even if the Labour party does not.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. The whole House heard the hon. Gentleman’s remark from a sedentary position. An apology would be appropriate.

Photo of Kevin Brennan Kevin Brennan Shadow Minister (Education)

Without reservation, I apologise.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means), First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

I thank the hon. Gentleman for acting honourably and trust he will now be a little quieter.

Photo of Nick Harvey Nick Harvey Liberal Democrat, North Devon

May I warmly welcome this significant step in the right direction? An extra £200 per pupil in Devon is a very welcome step. Of course, we still want to see a fair funding formula, but I recognise that the time to do it will probably be next year, when there is a comprehensive spending review. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that, in the event of a new Government being elected and not progressing with this next year, the extra moneys he has announced today will go permanently into the system and will not simply be a one-year deal?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support. Our intention is clear that the increases should be permanent. That relies on the decisions the country will have to make at the next general election.

Photo of Andrew Jones Andrew Jones Conservative, Harrogate and Knaresborough

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his statement and on targeting funding towards pupils in the schools that need it most. Will he provide a little more information on the implications for north Yorkshire?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I can confirm that north Yorkshire is one of the authorities affected by today’s announcement. Its current funding per pupil is £4,338 and, if the consultation goes ahead, it will rise to £4,435. [Interruption.] I am sorry that Labour Members genuinely are not able to accept that this is a serious matter and that some of these areas have been underfunded for many years. In spite of this serious issue, the coalition Government took the decision to apply the pupil premium and add it to many areas that were already very well funded. We took that deliberate decision in the knowledge that that would put deprivation first, and we are now making sure that we also correct this injustice.

Photo of Rehman Chishti Rehman Chishti Conservative, Gillingham and Rainham

I very much welcome the Minister’s statement. It addresses the unfair funding system for students in Medway, which has some of the worst key stage 2 results in the country. There is a seven-year difference in life expectancy between two parts of my constituency. Will the Minister clarify how Medway local authority will benefit under the proposal? [Interruption.]

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I of course—it is quite possible to do this—have a list of the 62 authorities impacted. If Lyn Brown wants one, she can go and get a copy. Medway’s current funding is £4,352, which will increase to £4,402 under the proposal.

Photo of Martin Horwood Martin Horwood Liberal Democrat, Cheltenham

May I tell my right hon. Friend that this announcement will be warmly welcomed in Cheltenham and across Gloucestershire—including in schools such as Balcarras, whose sixth-form funding has been particularly badly hit by the inclusion of the historical element in the funding formula—but when will we hear further announcements about progress towards a fully fair funding formula, and will that happen within the next 12 months?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

We will now have the consultation on the measures announced today. We will listen to the feedback we get from parents, teachers and others, and we will then make a final decision about the settlement for 2015-16. Given the importance of stability, we do not think it right to fix plans for years beyond 2015-16 until we know the education budgets for those years. It is for the country to decide at the next election whether it wants to return parties that are committed to ongoing funding reform.

Photo of Bob Blackman Bob Blackman Conservative, Harrow East

In the London borough of Harrow, 12 primary schools will add an extra class to each year group this September, and a further three primary schools will do the same the following September, which amounts to 3,000 extra school places. One problem is the lag between the pupils being allocated and the funding following them. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that there will be no attempt to reduce the amount of pupil funding in those schools, and that the funding will increase in line with his statement?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

We are certainly trying to ensure that in areas such as my hon. Friend’s we put in extra money to support the expansion of school places that is taking place. As he knows, we have now had the biggest increase in the primary population since the end of the second world war, and we are making sure that we put all funding, including capital funding, into the system to support that increase.

Photo of David Morris David Morris Conservative, Morecambe and Lunesdale

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that had the funding criteria been in place a few years ago, the Labour county council would not be shutting down Skerton school in my constituency?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

Certainly. We are announcing significant amounts of money today. Hon. Members on both sides of the House need to reflect on the consequence for many millions of young people over a long period of the fact that their schools were not funded fairly in many parts of the country.

Photo of Paul Burstow Paul Burstow Liberal Democrat, Sutton and Cheam

I thank my right hon. Friend for the announcement about basic needs capital earlier this year, including the £35 million to enable Sutton to provide extra secondary school places. In his statement, he mentioned Sutton as one of the potential beneficiaries of the changes. Sutton has been short-changed in funding for education for at least 30 years, if not 40 years. Will he give us some indication of the good news that pupils, teachers and schools in Sutton can now expect in securing extra resources for teaching?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for welcoming this announcement. In the paper on which we will consult, Sutton is among the top five authorities that we consider to be under-funded and is therefore among the top five beneficiaries. He will know that the funding rate in Sutton is £4,360 at present; under the proposal we are consulting on, it will rise to £4,637, which is an increase of 6.4%.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Conservative, East Hampshire

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the combination of fairer area funding, the pupil premium and the protection of the overall schools budget amply demonstrates the Government’s commitment to investing strongly in our nation’s future, while targeting additional resources transparently at the places where they are most needed?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend. I am incredibly proud of what we will have done on school funding by the end of this Parliament. At a time of austerity, we have put a massive amount into deprivation funding, which has helped constituencies across the country and the most disadvantaged areas in particular. Now we are dealing with the long-standing injustice of other areas having been short-changed.

Photo of Jeremy Lefroy Jeremy Lefroy Conservative, Stafford

I welcome the movement, at last, towards fairer funding. I also welcome the additional amount for Stoke-on-Trent—a city that is close to my heart, as well as to my constituency. Will the Minister expand on what today’s announcement will mean in the long term for my county of Staffordshire?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I am looking down my list, but I will have to come back to my hon. Friend because I do not have the number immediately to hand, given that there are 153 authorities.

Photo of John Glen John Glen Conservative, Salisbury

Wyvern college in my constituency is one of many Wiltshire schools that has been historically underfunded. Will the Minister meet me to discuss its 10-year deficit? On a more positive note, will he outline the additional per pupil funds that will be available to all Wiltshire schools as a consequence of today’s announcement?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I would, of course, be happy to meet my hon. Friend to discuss these matters. Wiltshire is one of the 60-odd authorities that will benefit from the statement. Its funding will rise by about £100 per pupil.

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Liberal Democrat, St Ives

Like other Members, I welcome this important step to put right, in the case of Cornwall, more than three decades of unfair funding. That has left a legacy of crumbling schools that have simply not kept up. My right hon. Friend knows about Helston community college, because I took a delegation to see him about it. Will the fairness that is being brought in be reflected in future announcements on capital funding?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I assure my hon. Friend that we will bring fairness to capital as well as to revenue funding. Under the last Government, capital for maintenance and rebuilding was allocated largely on the basis of pupils, rather than on the basis of the condition of the estate. We are surveying the entire school estate. That will allow us, later this year, to make long-term announcements on capital that are informed by the actual condition of schools across the country.

Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy Conservative, Brigg and Goole

When I started campaigning on this issue in 2008, Labour said locally that I was trying to steal money from neighbouring urban areas. Even after this announcement, neighbouring urban areas such as Hull and Doncaster will receive hundreds of pounds more per pupil than my area to meet the additional needs in those areas. I welcome the announcement. Will the Minister tell us how much extra brass we will be getting in the East Riding of Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire as a result?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

There is a long list to go down and Lincolnshire is certainly on it. Its per pupil funding will rise to £4,370. I will write to my hon. Friend about both authorities.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Conservative, Harlow

This announcement, along with the pupil premium and free school meals for poor pupils, shows that the Government have a relentless focus on the poor. When the Minister says that funding will be based on the actual characteristics of pupils and schools, does that relate to areas within counties and not just to counties? Will he set out how the proposals will help my constituency of Harlow?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I should explain that what the Government will do under these proposals is to ensure that each local authority area is funded fairly. There will still be flexibility for individual local authorities to take decisions about how they allocate that money to their schools.

Photo of Simon Wright Simon Wright Liberal Democrat, Norwich South

I welcome the proposals, which could mean several million pounds of extra funding for Norfolk schools. Will the Minister confirm that heads will have the freedom to use this money to support the professional development of teachers and to assess more effectively the impact of training on pupil outcomes?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his support. He has been a robust campaigner for fairness for Norfolk. He is right to say that we must focus not only on the quantity of additional money that is going to areas such as Norfolk, which will get £16 million extra under our proposals, but on ensuring that the money is spent effectively. I believe that providing high-quality continuing professional development for teachers would be a good way of spending it.

Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith Conservative, Skipton and Ripon

Will the Minister join the tributes to my hon. Friend Mr Walker who, ironically, cannot be here today but has done incredible work over many years on this issue? Will he also confirm his announcement on schools in sparsely populated areas, which is important for Nidderdale high school, Upper Wharfedale and other schools in North Yorkshire?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

My hon. Friend is right to highlight the work done by Mr Walker in leading the recent campaign at a national level with the so-called F40 authorities, and I am sorry that he cannot be here today because his area gets an uplift. I agree that sparsity should be a consideration. We must ensure that where we need more schools because of rurality, that is reflected in the way we fund local authorities.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Conservative, North Herefordshire

I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the statement and hearing how my right hon. Friend is teasing Labour Members by not telling them their figures. Will he remember and reinforce the unfairness that we have had to put up with for so many years, and turn the knife by telling us how much Herefordshire is getting?

Photo of David Laws David Laws The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, The Minister for Schools

Yes, I certainly can. Herefordshire is one of the authorities that were underfunded by previous Labour Governments, and it will gain as a consequence of this announcement with funding rising to around £4,430 a pupil.