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No delay to the introduction of the national funding formula, Nick Gibb signals

Minister reaffirms no school will see budget cut under new formula, and free school lunches for infants will not be scrapped

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Minister reaffirms no school will see budget cut under new formula, and free school lunches for infants will not be scrapped

There will be no delay in introducing the new national funding formula (NFF) for schools, schools minister Nick Gibb has indicated to MPs.

The government had pledged to introduce the new formula from 2018-19, but union leaders and fair funding campaigners had feared that the NFF would have to be delayed by a year because of disruption caused by the election. The government’s loss of its Common’s majority increased the uncertainty.

Today, following an urgent question on education funding from shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, Mr Gibb told MPs: “The new national funding formula comes in in 2018-19.”

When later asked specifically by Conservative backbencher Geoffrey Clifton-Brown about the timing of the NFF, Mr Gibb said: "We are moving to the national funding formula in 2018-19, and we will be responding to the consultation that had more than 25,000 responses, and closed on 22 March, very shortly."

The original proposals, as published in December 2016, would have seen 9,128 schools see their budgets cut, while 10,740 schools were set to gain.

In its election manifesto, the Conservatives said “we will make sure that no school has its budget cut as a result of the new formula”. Mr Gibb reiterated this commitment to MPs today.

The minister also reiterated that the manifesto commitment to scrap universal free school lunches for infants had been dropped.

He told MPs this afternoon: "We have listened very carefully to the views of the sector on the proposal to remove infant free school meals and we have decided that it is right to retain the existing provision.

"Universal infant free school meals ensure that children receive a nutritious meal during the day - it saves hard working families hundreds of pounds a year and it boosts educational achievement, especially amongst children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds."

The Tory manifesto has said that scrapping free infant school lunches would fund the extra money it promised for the schools budget.

When challenged by SNP MP Carol Monaghan where this money would come from now that free schools lunches had been saved, he said the government would respond to the NFF consultation "in due course", and added that "there she will find out the answers to all her questions".

He also told MPs the government would publish the recommendations on teachers’ pay rises from the School Teachers’ Review Body, and the government’s response, “as soon as possible”.

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