HC Deb 11 May 1993 vol 224 cc638-9
7. Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what has been the standard spending assessment for education in Humberside for each of the last two years.

Mr. Boswell

Humberside's education standard spending assessment rose by some 16 per cent. to £321 million in 1991–92 and to more than £342 million, including the additional grant for teachers' pay, in 1992–93—a rise of some 24 per cent. in two years. Its education standard spending assessment for 1993–94 is more than £305 million—an underlying increase of 1.8 per cent. allowing for the transfer of responsibility for most further education expenditure to the new funding council.

Mr. Mitchell

I thank the Minister for those statistics. Does he accept that the increase in Humberside's education SSA has been less than the national increase, resulting in the past three years in a cumulative loss of £3.5 million to the county? Does he further accept that Humberside's spending last year of more than 8 per cent.

over its SSA to give kids a bit better education has had to be cut because of the threat of budget capping? As a result of cutting the improvement over SSA, every school in Grimsby is losing between one and seven teachers and faces classes that much larger. Every child in Grimsby will receive an education that much worse than it should be. Does the Minister regard that as acceptable?

Mr. Boswell

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware from his local knowledge that the number of pupils in Humberside is static. The national numbers show a 1.2 per cent. increase in the current year. The difference in funding reflects that specific fact. If the hon. Gentleman does not like the present formula, it is open to him at any stage to suggest an alternative formula to my colleagues in the Department of the Environment. If he can find a formula that commands universal acceptance, including among his colleagues, he will be a clever man indeed. The present formula seeks to balance all the factors in the fairest possible way between local education authorities.

Mr. Michael Brown

Is not the real position that Humberside county council simply does not know how to manage its budget? In neighbouring Lincolnshire, the local authority under Conservative control—[Interruption.] at least until last Thursday, was able, and I hope will still be able, to deliver education to the people of Lincolnshire with more resources. Does my hon. Friend agree that in Lincolnshire a higher proportion of expenditure previously went on education than is likely to be the case under the new arrangements in Lincolnshire?

Mr. Boswell

My hon. Friend is precisely right as usual. I am sure that the good work done previously by Lincolnshire county council will stand to its advantage when it is remembered in due course.

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