Funding for Schools

I most concerned about the likely implications for Cumbria of the announcements this week about school capital programmes.

I am also completely convinced that, given the previous government had very quietly announced after the budget that there would be huge but unspecified cuts in the schools and NHS capital programmes, many of the programmes axed or suspended by Michael Gove this week would also have been axed or suspended if Labour had won the election.

It is important that money is found for capital investment in Cumbria's schools. But a government which has just inherited a fiscal position heading for national bankruptcy, because the previous administration was spending four pounds for every three coming in, was always going to be forced to take painful decisions. Because as the outgoing Labour chief secretary said, there isn't any money left.

Labour's suggestion - it was never specific enough to be called a promise - that they might provide £61.5 million for Cumbria's schools was never funded. They merely put forward an "indicative allocation" that the money might be found two years out.

I will campaign for investment in our local schools. But it will be the case whoever wins the next few local and parliamentary elections, as it would have been whoever had won the last one, that finding money for all sorts of important causes will be challenging.


Jane said…
The Free School Meals Pilot was not pivotal to ending child poverty as Jamie Reed declared. It was the construction of an elaborate fictional architecture of unethical language and communication based on misinformation. The project was attached to the Building Schools for the Future project, in what constituted a propaganda sham, cynically introduced by Labour, just before the General election so that they could blame those nasty mean Tories for not delivering on an un-budgeted fantasy. Cumbrian Schools have been strung along and conned with false expectations.

In the dying days of the last Labour Government a spending spree was decreed to look impressive. The Free School Meals Pilot was sprung upon the County Council, as a delaying tactic, so the Government could avoid having to come up with the ready cash to pay for the BSF project. The ‘indicative’ (not pledged) £61.5 million was held back on the technicality that Cumbria County Council had not adopted the Free School Meals Pilot. Ed Balls then Education Minister hoped that cash strapped County would not adopt the pilot. Despite the goal posts shifting, County called the Government’s bluff, by adopting the pilot that was to be part funded by central Government and part financed by County. On 5th April 2010 Cumbria miraculously qualified for the BSF funding. After the General Election the Free School Meals Pilot was dropped, because there was no money left, as outgoing Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne said in “full sooth (truth) in game and play.” (Chaucer) Not unexpectedly BSF was later dropped for the same reason.

The Free School Meals Pilot enabled Labour to play Pontius Pilate so they could wash their hands of the cuts, that outgoing Chancellor Alistair Darling not only admitted would come, but predicted would need to be more severe than under Margaret Thatcher’s Government.

Jamie Reed would have us believe that the Coalition Government is taking food out of the mouths of the poor. Give over with the emotional blackmail, Mr Reed. Children from low- income families will still qualify for free school meals. What the country cannot afford is providing for people on good incomes. This nanny state culture of welfare funding everyone’s lifestyle has to end. It is right in a civilised society that the most vulnerable members of the community should be supported by a safety net. This was the original purpose for introducing the Welfare State. I would warrant that the majority of old Labour supporter, like my late grandparents, would be thoroughly ashamed to expect the state to provide them with a living. A proud worker feels humiliated in taking handouts. It is the responsibility of individual parents to ensure that a child has a proper diet. The school’s role is to educate on healthy lifestyles. Once the horse is taken to water it must choose to drink.

I abhor child poverty as passionately as Jamie Reed purports to deplore it. However, had Labour managed the economy efficiently there would be money left to spend on what matters, like improving schools. Educating people out of poverty is the long-term solution, not inflicting state dependency on welfare to buy Labour votes. In these times of austerity the Coalition Government will be looking to provide the essentials. Meanwhile the debts of the Labour fathers will fall on our children and our children’s children.

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