Budget 2021 "disappointing" for education sector

The 2021 Budget was given by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on 3 March with measures to help the country recover economically from the coronavirus pandemic, such as extending the furlough scheme until September.

However there was no extra funding for schools beyond existing planned budget increases and catch-up schemes already announced by the government.

Commenting on the Budget announcement, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “It is disappointing that in a Budget focused on national recovery after the Covid pandemic so little mention has been made of the role of education. We believe that education is a vital part of the national recovery and that the Chancellor should have used this Budget to set out the government’s spending plan for catch-up support over the remainder of this parliament.

"We also hoped to see a commitment to give more financial support to schools and colleges for the significant additional costs incurred because of the pandemic. Instead, education was scarcely mentioned despite the government’s insistence that it is a national priority. This Budget was a missed opportunity to back up warm words with a concrete spending plan.”

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: "It is short-sighted and disappointing that the Government continues to ignore the funding pressures the education sector faces. The Government has said schools are a “national priority”, yet this Budget has provided schools with no new resources to manage coronavirus. Once again this Government has failed to pay attention to the educational professionals who see first-hand, every day, the detrimental impact under-funding of our education system has on the children and young people they teach or care for.

"NEU research shows school spending power is over £2bn less now than it was in 2015-16 and the education sector has specific funding needs to pay for the additional costs of Covid-19. Additional supply costs amounted to £290m last term alone and the Government is offering very little support for this. Schools are losing £290m in lettings income per year, and the Government is offering no help with this.  Maintained Nursery Schools are struggling to survive year on year without a long term funding settlement. The pandemic is stretching already overstretched budgets further. If the Government is serious about growing the economy and building a stronger society, it must prioritise education funding and provide the resources to support an education recovery plan as outlined by the NEU."

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