750,000 voters switched support as a result of school funding cuts, survey finds

14th June 2017 at 15:34
Poll finds Labour benefited as school funding rose up the political agenda

Concerns about school funding caused more than 750,000 voters to change the party they intended to support during the general election campaign, a poll has suggested.

The survey, carried out by Survation over the weekend, underlined the importance of the issue during the campaign and how it contributed to the shock result.

The poll found that 22.6 per cent of voters switched the party they intended to back during the campaign.

Of these, 10.4 per cent cited school funding policy as the reason – ahead of the economy and tuition fees, and equal to terrorism. That equates to roughly three-quarters of a million voters.

Only the performance of the party leaders, Brexit and social care policy were more influential.

The poll suggests Labour was the clear beneficiary, gaining the support of 62.5 per cent of those who said school funding caused them to change their vote.

School concerns cause change

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn raised the issue throughout the campaign, and Labour’s manifesto pledged a real-terms increase in per pupil funding.

In contrast, while the Conservatives promised a £4 billion boost to the schools budget, the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies calculated this would represent a real-terms 2.8 per cent per pupil cut over the course of the parliament.

Since the election, a number of Conservative MPs and candidates have highlighted school funding cuts as one of the reasons for their party’s poor performance.

Yesterday, it emerged that education secretary Justine Greening had argued that Tory manifesto should promise a real-terms per pupil rise in funding, but was overruled.

A source close to the Department for Education told Tes that “there is now a process looking at all the options on funding”, and the government is under increasing pressure from its own side to neutralise the issue by giving more money to schools.

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