Budget 2010: good and bad news for education

24 Mar 2010

 There's good and bad news for education in this afternoon's Budget.

I suppose the headline grabber  is the announcement of an extra 20,000 places for undergraduates studying science, technology, engineering and maths courses from this September. This package will cost a one-off £270 million.

This has the political convenience of both removing a pressing issue from the headlines (after the rise in applications this year, and an expected reduction of 6,000 places, this was boiling up into a very sensitive issue) and shooting the Tories' fox, since they were planning to create an extra 10,000 places.

 However, none of this means that universities are out of the woods on funding constraints. They will still have to make 'efficiency savings' and there are cuts already in the pipeline.

On schools there were few surprises in the Budget but there will nevertheless be some relief that there were no new cuts.

Budget 2010 confirms the announcement in the Pre-Budget Report that front-line spending on schools, Surestart, and 16-19 education will be 'protected' until 2012-13. Schools spending will rise by 0.7% above inflation, and 16-19 spending by 0.9%, over the next two years.

 At the same time - and rather confusingly - the Budget confirmed that  'efficiency savings' will have to be made in schools through federations, collaboration on back-office functions, and shared procurement. These savings will amount to £1.1 billion in education front-line services by 2012-13.

The Budget also confirmed the 1% pay cap on public sector pay rises.

However it did give some detail of where the efficiency savings within the DCSF budget will fall.

In all £350 savings will be found, including £25 million from the budget of Becta, £40 million from the TDA, £71 million from cash for extended schools start-ups, and £10.5 million from central administrative and communications budgets. 

Finally, the government announced it will be developing proposals to sell £25 billion from the student loan portfolio.

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