Sunderland councillor slams Boris Johnson over schools funding report

A Sunderland councillor has slammed Boris Johnson, claiming a promised cash boost for schools will mainly benefit those in Tory MPs’ constituencies.

Friday, 13th September 2019, 6:39 pm
Updated Monday, 16th September 2019, 11:41 am
Councillor Louise Farthing

The Prime Minister promised to reverse the cuts to school budgets since 2015 by pumping £4.6billion a year into the system by 2022/23 during his leadership campaign.

At the end of August 2019, the Government announced that in 2020/21, schools will get a £2.6billion rise, £4.8 billion in 2021/22 and £7.1 billion in 2022/23.

But Councillor Louise Farthing, portfolio holder for children’s services, and Labour ward member for Washington South, has pointed to a report which claims 93% of schools receiving a boost of more than £100 a year per pupil are in Conservative seats in areas such as Essex, the southwest, Kent and the shires.

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Sunderland City Council's Conservative group leader Councillor Robert Oliver

“We know that The Conservatives have a track record of under-investment in the North East, and places like Sunderland invariably suffer, but it is absolutely shameful to see them put much-needed funds into Tory strongholds and marginals while there remains a significant divide between the North and South,” said Coun Farthing.

“Following years of investment in education under a Labour Government - through the Building Schools for the Future programme - the Tories swept into power - propped up by the Lib Dems - and have starved the education system of cash in this part of the world. Now under-resourced schools are creating an education crisis for this country - one that will leave a lasting legacy and damage the life chances of our young people.

“Schools here in Sunderland are in dire need of investment and if the report is correct and the Government are to funnel cash to schools in Tory-held seats at the expense of schools here in Sunderland and across the north of England, it is an utter disgrace.”

Analysis in the report - released by The Times - shows that 143 of the 153 constituencies that will receive additional funding are Tory held seats.

Sunderland Conservatives leader Robert Oliver hit back at Coun Farthing’s remarks.

He said the billions to boost school spending is good news and only possible thanks to “an economy that has grown every year since the financial crisis under the Labour Government”.

He added: “Including £700million for special needs pupils and on top of £1.5billion to fund teachers' pensions, the funding package will reverse the cuts of the last nine years."