Labour has issued mixed messages as to whether it would protect school budgets should it win next year’s general election, after Tristram Hunt gave the strongest indication yet that his party would ring-fence funding. Speaking during a live TES webchat on Tuesday, the shadow education secretary said that while any decision on spending was a matter for shadow chancellor Ed Balls, he said he expected a Labour government to spare schools from spending cuts. “That decision is above my pay grade, but I am arguing for it very strongly and we will obviously have that announcement ready for our manifesto,” Mr Hunt said.
“I think it’s absolutely fair that, if you look throughout post-war history, Labour governments have supported and invested in education, and I would be very sceptical if an Ed Miliband government didn’t do the same.” Labour leader Ed Miliband delivered a speech this afternoon, in which he only promised to protect spending on the NHS and overseas aid.
If he led a government, Mr Miliband told an audience in central London, he would carry out a programme of “sensible” public spending cuts to reduce the deficit.
Before the speech, Mr Balls had written to all members of the shadow Cabinet, warning that aside from health, international development and a “limited” number of other areas to be set out in the 2015 manifesto, shadow ministers should be “planning on the basis that your departmental budgets will be cut not only in 2015/16 but each year until we have achieved our promise to balance the books”. And speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Mr Balls refused to rule out cuts to school budgets. “The schools budget is hugely important, and when I was secretary of state we looked hard to find savings in the school budgets,” he said. “I think education is massively important, but of course there are other areas, defence, social care, local government services, policing these are all very important areas.”
For more on Tristram Hunt's interview, download the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick up the TES in all good newsagents.
Tristram Hunt live webchat - 9 December 2014
Autumn Statement: teachers face more misery over pay - 3 December 2014