HC Deb 30 January 1990 vol 166 cc153-4
11. Mr. Robert B. Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimates he has of the average sum from central education overheads of local education authorities which would be available to schools seeking self-governing status.

Mr. MacGregor

The addition for services previously provided centrally by a local education authority amount on average to £94,000 in 1989–90, which is 15 per cent. on average of the direct costs of grant-maintained schools. Grant-maintained schools have the freedom to choose how to spend most efficiently their share of this central spending.

Mr. Jones

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that it confirms that the additional money will be available, if schools want it, to spend on additional staff or extra equipment instead of on the salaries of bureaucrats and providing offices for them to work in? Does he further agree that it would be available for all schools if there were a big cut in the amount of bureaucratic overheads that schools have to carry?

Mr. MacGregor

I agree with my hon. Friend that this gives much greater scope for flexibility for resources to be deployed as the school wishes—as the head teacher, staff and governors wish—and to use the resources more efficiently. There is already considerable demonstration that that is happening, and that is one of the many merits of grant-maintained schools.

Mr. Fatchett

Will the Secretary of State explain how he equates last week's statement on opt out schools when he made available in capital terms 42 per cent. more to each of those schools than to equivalent maintained sector schools? How does he justify that when he told the House that there would be no difference in treatment between those schools and maintained sector schools? Is it really a case that the social division of this programe can be maintained only by the political bribes that are involved in that amount of money?

Mr. MacGregor

That is a nonsensical question. There is no social division in this programme because the schools continue to draw, and their character is precisely as it was before. As for the comparison, the hon. Gentleman makes a point that fails to take into account many other factors —for example, that the grant-maintained schools are concentrated entirely on the secondary sector, whereas 80 per cent. of all maintained schools are primary schools and are therefore smaller; that in the maintained sector other sources of revenue are available for capital expenditure, including capital receipts; and that the maintained schools have to pay VAT. The hon. Gentleman really does not have his facts right.

Mr. Jacques Arnold

When considering the reallocation of central education overheads, will my right hon. Friend consider extending that principle to schools operating under local financial management? Is not their track record one of obtaining more value for money than the central bureaucrats?

Mr. MacGregor

As local management of schools comes into operation, I expect savings to be made in the central administration of local education authorities, reflecting the direct transfer of a considerable amount of their responsbility to the schools.