Almost all of the Pounds 19 billion promised by ministers for schools and colleges during the next three years has already been allocated, a TES analysis today reveals. And ministers desperate to demonstrate Labour's commitment to "education, education and education" are resorting to announcing the same money two, three or even four times.
Our analysis, which was completed before the publication of the Green Paper, shows that the Government has already allocated Pounds 14bn of the Pounds 16bn extra earmarked for education in England. (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get Pounds 3bn between them.) Despite the claims of jam tomorrow, much of that is jam today with only Pounds 2bn left in the jar for schools.
SureStart, the programme to help deprived families with young children, has been announced three times since first revealed by the Chancellor in his comprehensive spending review.
New truancy and exclusion funding was recycled and re-announced within three weeks. And cash to cut class sizes was press-released in July, at the time of the CSR, and again in September. Out of the Pounds 540m, only Pounds 320m is new, and Pounds 160m of that was also announced as part of the capital allocations.
Extra money will have to come from savings, so ministers are trying to cash in on resources they have already announced.
With only Pounds 2bn left to allocate, spending plans could be hit hard by unforeseen problems - such as higher than expected inflation. David Willetts, the Tories' education spokesman, warned that: "Schools and LEAs have very little flexibility left. It is very dangerous not to have flexibility in the system."