Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting school budgets in England from nursery to 19. It’s impossible to raise standards, recruit teachers and help more children succeed if our education system is starved of funds. We will increase education spending in England in real terms over the next Parliament, which could mean up to £150 million in extra funding in Wales. The Welsh Liberal Democrats would use this funding to increase our flagship ‘Pupil Premium’ policy – increasing resources for schools in Wales.
All parties will have to make savings in the next Parliament but Liberal Democrats will not cut the money the government spends on schools, early years and 16-19 education. Our party offers Wales guaranteed funding so that we can improve public services. Both Labour and the Tories will slash Wales’ budget – we won’t allow that to happen.
Why are the Lib Dems protecting education?
Liberal Democrats have put education at the heart of our agenda for a generation. We believe every child deserves a great start in life, and are determined to make sure our education system finds and nurtures the best in everyone. Despite giving young people access to education from the age of 2 until 19, funding is only currently protected in England for young people from the age of 5 to 16. This is inconsistent with our view of education. Early years learning is critical because all the evidence shows that a child who starts behind, stays behind. And the final two years of education from 16 make sure every young person is properly prepared for higher education, training or the workplace.
How will this mean more money for Wales?
The party in England has made a major new commitment to increase education spending in real terms over the next parliament which would mean up to £150 million in additional funding for Wales. Liberal Democrats will protect age 2-19 spending in real terms up until 2017-18 (the point at which we eradicate the cyclically adjusted current budget deficit). From 2018-19 onward we will then increase age 2-19 year-old funding in line with economic growth. This means that the Liberal Democrats will ensure that by 2020 per pupil funding will have been protected in real terms.
What will the other parties do to the education budget in England?
Conservative plans amount to freezing cash funding for 5-16 year-olds while as shown by the IFS they will cut 2-5 year-old and 16-19 year old funding. This means that in 2020, the Conservatives will spend £5bn less in 2020 than under our plans. Labour plans to freeze total 2-19 year-old education funding in real terms does not account for forecast increase in pupil numbers. This means that Labour will spend £2.5bn less in 2020 then under our plans.
Both of these will mean less money for Wales than is on offer under Welsh Liberal Democrat plans. These are based on each party’s spending projections and IFS predictions of 15% cuts by the Conservatives in unprotected areas and freezing per pupil cash funding for 5-16 year olds.