Spending Review: Government to protect Sure Start centres and introduce early intervention grant

The government has pledged to protect cash for Sure Start, encourage more early years providers into the market and introduce a new and simplified early intervention grant.

Handing the expenditure settlement to parliament, Chancellor George Osborne also told MPs that the total schools budget will rise from £35bn to £39bn over the forthcoming spending period. This will be a real terms increase of 0.1 per cent each year of the spending review including a £2.5bn pupil premium.

He added that funding for education and training places for 16- to 19-year-olds would be increased.

“Even as pupil numbers greatly increase, we will ensure the cash funding per pupil does not fall,” he said.

“The resource money for schools, the money that goes to the classroom – on the broadest definition, including all the main grants, will go up in real terms every year.”

These measures will allow the government to focus Sure Start on “its original purpose” and replace education maintenance allowance payments for 16- to 19-year-olds with “more targeted support”, he said.

In terms of public sector reform, Osborne claimed that not all services paid for by government have to be delivered by government.

“We will expand the use of personal budgets for special education needs, children with disabilities and long-term health conditions,” he said. “And we will encourage new providers in adult social care, early years and road management.”

On capital projects, the Chancellor committed to spending £15.8bn on maintaining the school estate and rebuilding or refurbishing 600 schools, despite the fact that the coalition scrapped Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme earlier this year.

“It is a real investment in the future of our children and in the future growth in our economy too,” he said.

However, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Compared to some services, schools may have appeared to have a stay of execution. But even on the limited detail available, it is clear that support for children and young people is being reduced dramatically.
“In anyone’s terms, a 0.1 per cent real-terms increase in funding for schools means that funding for schools is going to be significantly reduced when inflation is running at over four per cent.