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No school budget cuts as a result of the new formula

Last updated: 09:11am 11 January 2019

We appreciate that it is hard for schools receiving a higher level of funding to make cuts in order to pay for increases elsewhere, so while we will make funding fairer over the course of the parliament, we will make sure that no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.51

Our verdict

The government has introduced a new formula for providing funding for schools. The idea is that the “national funding formula for schools and high needs” (NFF) will reduce unfairness in the allocation of funds, as outlined in a statement by then Education Secretary Justine Greening in September 2017.

This policy offers a guarantee that no school will suffer budget cuts as a result of the introduction of the NFF.

The initial plan was to fully introduce the NFF from 2018, but shortly after the election, the government announced that would be delayed in favour of a transitional “soft” roll-out until 2020 during which time local authorities will continue to set a local formula for schools’ budgets.

There is evidence that despite this interim measure, school budgets are being squeezed. A poll by the campaign group Worth Less found that 90% of schools are dipping into pupil premium money to keep their budgets afloat, and in June 2018, the Education Secretary acknowledged that 61 local authorities were using school budgets to cover costs previously met by the Education Services Grant which was scrapped in September 2017.

The soft roll-out of the NFF is ongoing, and despite the pressures mentioned above, the Dedicated Schools Grant to local authorities has been protected. We’re marking this policy as ‘in progress’, but we acknowledge this is a contentious area. In October 2018, for example, the UK Statistics Authority accused  the Department for Education of presenting figures to “misrepresent changes in school funding”.

We will continue to monitor developments and if it turns out that “no school has its budget cut”, we’ll be able to move this to ‘done’.

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