HC Deb 08 November 1990 vol 180 cc22-7W
Mr. Pawsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on his Department's expenditure plans for 1991–92 to 1993–94.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his statement today, the provision for the Department of Education and Science's own spending programme in 1991–92 will be £7,246 million, which is some £690 million (4 per cent. in real terms) higher than the corresponding plans for 1990–91. This figure includes central Government expenditure on higher education, science, and schools; it also includes specific grants to local education authorities and credit approvals for capital expenditure by LEAs.

In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced on 31 October proposals for the local authority settlement for 1991–92 which allow for a total of £17,485 million to be spent by LEAs on schools, colleges and other education services. That figure is over £2,400 million higher than the corresponding figure for 1990–91.

These two settlements, taken together, reflect the priority which the Government have given to education within their overall spending plans, and will provide an excellent basis for carrying forward our policies to raise standards and increase choice in the schools and to increase participation in higher education.

Local authority current expenditure

The Government's spending plans allow for local authorities in England to spend £17,485 million on schools, colleges and other education services. This is over £2,400 million or 16 per cent. higher than education's share of the 1990–91 grant settlement.

This increase recognises the role of schools and colleges in giving effect to our education reforms. Teachers and others are working hard to get the reforms into place, and good progress is being made. So long as LEAs, schools and colleges manage their resources effectively and efficiently, I am confident that the £17.5 billion total allocated to local authority education will be sufficient to achieve the further improvements we all wish to see.

Specific Grants

Within the £17.5 billion total, the Government will be supporting £36.4 million of spending through the grants for education support and training (GEST) programme. For 1991–92 the programme, which brings together the existing education support grants and LEA training grants, is focused on the education reforms, which account for over £270 million of the available expenditure compared to £190 million in the current year. In addition to the £17.5 billion total, which includes £118 million for the careers service, LEAs will continue to receive grant from the Department of Employment for the technical and vocational education initiative.


Nearly £14 billion of the £17.5 billion will be spent on schools and school-related supported services. We are assuming a small increase in primary and secondary teacher numbers to just over 400,000. This will mean the continuation of the record low pupil:teacher ratio of one teacher to every 17 pupils. We are also assuming an increase in spending on school support staff to assist teachers in their work.

The pupil: teacher ratio in special schools is assumed to fall further to 4:8:1 to allow for staffing support for pupils with special educational needs.

For the great bulk of education funding, it is for LEAs and, under local management, their schools and colleges, to decide how best to deploy available resources. But the grant settlement allows for them to give particular priority to increased spending on school books and equipment and school repairs and maintenance.

Local Authority Further and Higher Education

The settlement reflects the buoyant trend of enrolments in LEA colleges, allowing for 677,000 full-time equivalent students on further education (FE) courses, and 43,000 on higher education courses. That includes a 7 per cent. increase in the participation rate in full-time FE courses by 16 and 17-year olds between 1989–90 and 1991–92. The FE staff:student ratio is assumed to rise from 10:7:1 in 1989–90 to 10:9:1 in 1991–92 as colleges continue to improve their efficiency. But the plans incorporate real increases in spending on college administrative and clerical staff, on books and equipment, and on repairs and maintenance.

Capital Expenditure in Schools and Colleges

In 1991–92 annual capital guidelines for local authority capital expenditure on schools in England will total £472 million. This compares with £410 million in 1990–91, an increase of 15 per cent. Building and repair grants to voluntary aided schools will be £130 million, which represents an increase of 21 per cent. over 1990–91 provision. An additional £2 million will be provided for grant-maintained schools.

These increases—providing for total expenditure of over £600 million on school buildings—demonstrate the Government's commitment, within overall constraints on public expenditure, to continued improvement in the school building stock. The plans allow for the growing demand for new school places in areas of population growth; the capital costs of removing surplus places elsewhere; building work needed for effective implementation of the national curriculum; and for equipping colleges to meet the skill requirements of the 1990s. Local education authorities can supplement annual capital guidelines from capital receipts and from revenue sources, and are free to decide themselves within their available resources what level of capital expenditure to devote to education.

Higher Education

Compared with the level in the present year, total available public funds for higher education are planned to increase by some 10 per cent. in 1991–92 and by over 18 per cent. by 1993–94. Spending on higher education will exceed £4 billion for the first time in 1991–92.

These plans will enable the universities, polytechnics and colleges to provide for the record numbers now wanting to enter higher education as the Government's education reforms take effect. More than one in five of all 18-year-olds are expected to enter higher education from next year, compared with only one in eight at the end of the 1970s. The table sets out the detailed projections of student numbers on which the new expenditure plans are based.

After adjustments to earlier plans to allow for higher tuition fees in October 1991, the additional funding in 1991–92 compared with earlier plans for that year comprises mainly: (a) an extra £175 million for the two funding councils to distribute to universities, polytechnics and colleges—£42.5 million of it for building improvements and equipment; and (b) an extra £110 million for tutition fees, paid for those who qualify through mandatory student awards.

This may allow a small increase in academic staff complements as student numbers increase (by a projected 5 per cent. for full-time and sandwich course students in academic year 1991–92), but the scale of any such increase will depend on the extent to which cost increases, and particularly pay increases, can be contained. Universities, polytechnics and colleges will, in any case, need to make significant efficiency gains in particular by continuing to develop more effective provision for teaching.

These plans confirm that the Government are providing for the cost of the extra students enrolled beyond the earlier planned numbers as well as for an increase in resources for the funding councils. Universities, polytechnics and colleges remain free to take on, and finance through the tuition fee, as many qualified students as they are able to accommodate. The level of fees which will be reimbursed through public funds in 1991–92 will be up to these limits:

  • Classroom-based subjects £1,775
  • Laboratory/workshop-based subjects £2,650
  • Clinical medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science £4,770


The plans allow for an increase over earlier plans, excluding the fees for extra students, of £107 million in 1991–92 for recurrent and capital funding for the universities. They will also benefit from extra income from tuition fees expected to average some £2,280 for every additional student enrolled beyond the Government's earlier plans. Total planned available recurrent funding in 1991–92 is just over 9.5 per cent. higher than the expected level in 1990–91.

After taking account of the shift of resources from recurrent funding to higher differential tuition fees in respect of students allowed for in the Government's earlier plans, and of the transfer of the work of the Computer Board (apart from supercomputing which transfers to the Advisory Board for the Research Councils), the total available for recurrent funding in 1991–92 to the Universities Funding Council will be £1,599 million. As envisaged in earlier plans, this includes £20 million for the continuing cost of new academic appointments following the three-year restructuring programme. It will be for the vice-chancellors to determine what can be afforded for academic pay having regard to other cost increases, the scope for efficiency improvements and the need for additional staff. The Government expect the 1991 pay settlement for academic staff to incorporate further flexibility and differentiation; and are considering further whether to hold back an element of grant for release only in the event of a satisfactory settlement.

The plans for 1992–93 and 1993–94 allow for the transfer of resources to the science budget, as explained in my separate statement today about a new boundary for dual support for science.

Capital funding for universities will be £10 million a year more than previously planned so as to provide for additional equipment for teaching and for necessary improvements in animal houses.

Polytechnics and colleges

The plans allow for an increase, excluding the fees for extra students, of some £68.5 million in 1991–92 for recurrent and capital funding for the polytechnics and colleges. They will also benefit from tuition fee income expected to average £2,174 per student for every additional student enrolled beyond the Government's earlier plans. Total planned available recurrent funding in 1991–92 is 10 per cent higher than the expected level in 1990–91.

After taking account of the shift of resources to higher differential tuition fees in respect of students allowed for in the Government's earlier plans, recurrent funding available to the PCFC in 1991–92 will be £870 million. As envisaged in last year's plans, this includes the final tranche of £5 million for the agreed restructuring programme and a final small tranche of £2 million for contingencies for transitional problems and liabilities. It will be for the polytechnics and college employers to determine what can be afforded for academic pay having regard to other cost increases, the scope for efficiency improvements and the need for additional staff. The Government expect the 1990 and 1991 pay settlements to achieve greater flexibility in the use of academic staff time and other improvements in conditions of employment within the resources available for 1990–91 and now announced for 1991–92; and are considering further whether to hold back an element of grant in 1991–92 for release only in the event of a satisfactory pay settlement in 1991.

Higher education: projected student numbers
Academic years
1990–91 1991–92 1992–93 1993–94
Students in Great Britain higher education
Full-time and Sandwich
Home 642.0 674.0 686.0 685.0
Part-time (including OU) 401.0 406.0 408.0 409.0
Total FTE1 (PT=0.35) 849.0 885.0 898.0 899.0
Age Participation Index 18.6 20.3 21.0 21.6
Home students in the UFC and PCFC sectors
Home Full-time and Sandwich 298.0 312.0 320.0 322.0
Home part-time 49.0 50.0 50.0 51.0
Total FTE1 (PT=0.35) 315.0 330.0 338.0 340.0
Home Full-time and Sandwich 281.0 297.0 300.0 298.0
Home part-time 137.0 140.0 140.0 140.0
Total FTE1 (PT=0.35) 329.0 346.0 349.0 347.0
1 FTE: Full Time Equivalent.

Capital funding for polytechnics and colleges will be nearly £35 million a year more than previously planned so as to provide for priority building improvements and additional equipment for teaching.

For both sectors, the plans allow for funding council running costs including those associated with their move to Bristol in 1991–92.

Student Support

The plans allow for total provision of £1,015 million in 1991–92 to cover the costs of student support. This sum will meet the cost of grants at the 1990–91 academic year levels for the higher number of students now projected, and will allow for the uprating of student loans in line with the previously announced policy. Further details will be announced in due course.


Provision for the DES science programme, including expenditure financed by EC receipts, will be £928 million in 1991–92, £1,030 million in 1992–93 and £1,113 million in 1993–94. The figure for 1991–92 takes account of the rescheduling of postgraduate tuition fees from annual to termly payments, which results in a reduced requirement of £8 million for that year only. In addition expenditure on the Antarctic research ship RRS James Clark Ross, which was provided as an earmarked addition to science funding, and on the relocation of the research councils' headquarters to Swindon will be substantially lower in 1991–92 than in 1990–91. The increased provision in 1991–92 will preserve the real value of the science budget once these factors have been taken into account.

The figures for 1992–93 and 1993–94 include additions of £50 million and £100 million in those two years to reflect the change in the balance of funding responsibilities between higher education institutions and the research councils from August 1992. From that date the grants made to higher education institutions by research councils will cover the full costs of research, except for academic salaries and premises costs. It is possible that further adjustments will be made next year.

I am inviting the Advisory Board for the Research Councils to advise me on the distribution of these resources that will best advance the Government's aims for civil science in the interests of the nation as a whole.

Mr. Hanley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any changes to announce to cash limits on votes within his responsibility for 1990–91.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Subject to parliamentary approval to the necessary supplementary estimates, the cash limit for class XI, vote 1, schools, research and miscellaneous services, and class XI, vote 5, science, will be amended as follows:

Class and vote Current cash limit Change Revised cash limit
£ £ £
XI.1 653,341,000 +4,309,000 657,650,000
XI.5 897,147,000 +5,184,000 902,331,000

The increase on class XI, vote 1 results from the full-take up of the capital end-year flexibility entitlement announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 25 July, and a transfer from the Property Services Agency following the change of responsibility for maintenance of the European school at Culham. The increase is partly offset by an increase in appropriations in aid in respect of the British school in Armenia and a transfer to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to assist with the financing of the trans-European mobility scheme for university studies (TEMPUS).

The increase of £5,184,000 on class XI, vote 5 is to enable AFRC to meet existing commitments on restructuring work and for the strengthening of security measures at AFRC institutes (£2,500,000); for SERC to meet the costs of providing buildings to support SERC grants to research workers in higher education institutions (£2,134,000); and for ESRC to make payments in respect of the council's new computer system and the extension to Polaris house (£550,000). These increases are within the forecast outturn for the planning total included in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's autumn statement today.