Central spending set to rise as local share decreases

25th June 1999 at 01:00
Official figures show that the Department for Education and Employment is spending an ever greater amount of the national education budget.

Its spending is set to rise from 38 per cent in 1998-99 to 42 percent in 2001-2. The local authority share is actually set to decrease from 62 per cent to 58 per cent.

Nor is the DFEE above cooking the books. Just last year, it was criticised by the Commons Treasury Select Committee, whose members judged there has been no "cash bonanza" for education, despite ministers' claims.

Press releases issued following the comprehensive spending review highlighted the total, cumulative, additional resources available, rather than the increase in annual expenditure over the three years to 2002.

This meant that extra spending on education in England was put at pound;16bn when the actual increase was pound;8bn, said the committee.

The pound;16bn figure was obtained by adding together rises of pound;2.4 bn in 1999-2000, pound;5.4bn in 2000-01 and pound;8.1bn in 2001-02 cumulatively from 1998-99.

Both the Treasury and the DFEE then confused the issue further by putting out press notices talking about an even bigger - pound;19 billion - rise, unsupported by the figures.

The Treasury select committee has now recommended that the Government should refer to annual increases over the previous year rather than the cumulative total.

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