Watchdog criticises school funding claims in manifestos

The UK Statistics Authority says it has already issued warnings over the figures being used by Labour and Tories

UKSA

The Conservative and Labour parties have been criticised by the statistics watchdog over school funding figures included in their manifestos.

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) says it has already issued warnings over the figures, which include Labour's claim that “83 per cent of schools [are] still facing cuts next year.” 

UKSA says the calculation, based on a claim by the NEU teaching union, is a comparison between 2015-16 and 2020-21, and does not refer specifically to changes due to occur next year.


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A spokesperson said: “Following discussion with the Office for Statistics Regulation in January, the union made changes to their School Cuts website to explain the methodology. Without this context, the headline statement is likely to give an unclear impression of future changes in school budgets.”

School funding pledge 'needs clarity'

The authority also criticises the Conservative Party manifesto’s announcement of “an extra £14 billion funding for schools", which it says is “calculated by adding together and then rounding increases across three years”.

The spokesperson said: “The figure is not adjusted for inflation and represents the total increase in expenditure in cash terms across these years.

“In October, we therefore emphasised the need for clarity on what the figures represent. The manifesto fails to provide this clarity. The manifesto introduction mentions a time frame when referring to this increase, however when explaining changes in school funding dates or baselines are not given. The manifesto also translates the figure into a per-week basis. The basis for the per-week calculation is unclear.”

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says the £14 billion equates to £7.1 billion when double and triple counting is allowed for, and £4.3 billion in real terms over three years when inflation is discounted.

Joint-general secretary of the NEU teaching union Kevin Courtney said: "We are pleased that the UK Statistics Authority recognises the changes we have made to the School Cuts website so that our work fully complies with their exacting standards. The front page accurately states that 83 per cent of schools still lose out next year."

Both the Conservative and Labour parties have been contacted for comment

 

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