‘They might get 27p’: Chancellor Philip Hammond is mocked for joking that instead of giving schools a £27bn funding boost they will only receive loose change
- Philip Hammond rejected suggestions he could give schools a £27billion boost
- He has been locked in a row with Theresa May over demands for more cash
- The Chancellor is refusing to loosen the purse strings even though No 10’s latest request – as part of attempts to secure Mrs May’s legacy – is now just £3billion
Net spending: Philip Hammond at Wimbledon
Philip Hammond has rejected suggestions from No 10 that he could give schools a £27billion funding boost – saying they ‘might get 27p’.
The Chancellor has been locked in a row with Theresa May for weeks over her demands for more cash for the education budget.
He is refusing to loosen the purse strings even though No 10’s latest request – as part of attempts to secure Mrs May’s legacy – is now just £3billion.
Instead, he has said schools funding should be considered after Mrs May leaves Downing Street at the end of the month.
He told friends: ‘Schools funding is a matter for the spending review this autumn.
‘That is the time to be having this discussion. The Department for Education has made representations about something this summer and we are trying to help with that – but it won’t be in the region of £27billion, I can tell you. They might get 27p.’ The £27billion was part of Mrs May’s ‘legacy’ plans. It included £7billion a year on school staff and resources and £2billion a year on books and building repairs.
Allies of Mrs May hit back at the Chancellor yesterday. One source said, sarcastically, that Mr Hammond’s comments showed his ‘characteristic deft political touch’.
Last month, Mr Hammond threatened to resign over what he saw as an irresponsible splurge. He also criticised Mrs May’s 2050 ‘net zero’ climate change target, which became law at the end of June, warning it could cost £1trillion and mean less cash for public services.
A source close to the Chancellor said: ‘We continue to work constructively with colleagues across government on support for educational pressures. Any long term funding decisions would have to be made at the next Spending Review, the timing of which will be decided by the next administration.’
Senior Whitehall sources admitted the Chancellor was ‘dug in pretty hard’ and it was unlikely his position would change.
The Chancellor has been locked in a row with Theresa May for weeks over her demands for more cash for the education budget
Mr Hammond sparked fury among Brexiteers this week when it emerged he had proposed providing extra funding to secure Mrs May’s legacy if she allowed Tory MPs free votes on efforts to stop No Deal. At one point he suggested he could agree to the education package if Mrs May allowed the whip to be suspended on cross-party measures to thwart Britain leaving without a deal on October 31.
Speaking last month, Mrs May was defiant about making big decisions in her final weeks. She said: ‘I’ve still got work to do until I hand over to my successor. And I think it’s important that we continue to take decisions, that are right decisions for this country.’
Boris Johnson has pledged to increase education funding by £4.6billion a year by 2022/3.
Ministers have said repeatedly that there is ‘more money going into schools than ever before’. The core schools and high needs budget is rising from almost £41billion in 2017-18 to £43.5billion by 2019-20.
However, factors such as inflation and rising pension and National Insurance costs have taken a massive toll on schools. Pupil numbers are also rising following a baby boom in the early 2000s.
Class sizes have increased since 2015. The percentage of pupils in secondary school classes of more than 30 pupils has risen from 9.6 per cent to 12.1 per cent.
Last September, up to 2,000 head teachers marched on Downing Street, claiming that school budgets have been ‘cut to the bone’.
They warned of a growing ‘crisis’ with class sizes rising, subjects being scrapped and staff being made redundant.