Philip Hammond has told MPs he was “quite surprised” by the reaction to his allocation of £400 million to schools to buy “little extras”.
The chancellor unveiled the money, worth an average of £10,000 to primaries and £50,000 to secondaries to buy one-off items this year, in last week’s Budget.
The “little extras” announcement sparked anger and ridicule, with one union leader branding it “deeply insulting and disingenuous”.
Mr Hammond was quizzed about the funding he announced for schools during an appearance at the Commons Treasury Select Committee this afternoon.
He said: “I was quite surprised by the reaction.
“I was quite surprised because while I understand that schools are operating under pressure, and of course we will look at school funding in the spending review next year, we did put £1.3 billion in in the summer of 2017 in order to maintain real-terms per-pupil funding.”
He also told the committee: “Despite various comments made by various people, I maintain that for most secondary schools, receiving a cheque for £50,000 on an item or items in a year will be something worth having.
“I’m sure that for anybody who feels it’s not worth having, there will be plenty of other schools who will be willing to receive the cheque on their behalf.”
He told the committee that the money he allocated to schools, and a slightly larger amount to fix potholes, was an attempt to quickly spend some public money in the current financial year.
The chancellor also indicated that if schools are not able to spend their “little extras” money in the current year, they may be allowed to roll it over to the following financial year.