Revealed: Leaked document exposes George Osborne's education cuts

Despite election pledges, the front-line schools budget is not increasing in real terms

George Osborne is secretly breaking his flagship pledge to protect spending on schools, according to the Government's own analysis, revealed in a document leaked to The Independent on Sunday.

A confidential paper drawn up by civil servants assessing the Department for Education's finances reveals that the Chancellor's promise in 2010 to increase the front-line schools budget in real terms for four years "is not, in fact, what is happening".

The document says: "Schools are subject to a real-terms cut in their funding because the rate of inflation is currently higher than forecast at the time of the Spending Review [in November 2010]."

The startling admission by the Department for Education, in October last year, shows that Mr Osborne is allowing spending on schools to fall in real terms. Yet, in December, when he published his Autumn Statement, he claimed that he was keeping his pledge. The statement said that it "[confirmed] that the Government will continue to protect spending on core public services, including the NHS and schools, for the spending review period".

The revelation will put further pressure on Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, who is already under fire over allegations of bullying and smears by his closest advisers in his department. The Conservatives were dragged into a separate row over state education yesterday when Maria Hutchings, the Tory candidate in the Eastleigh by-election, appeared to criticise state schools in the constituency. Mrs Hutchings said she would need to send her 12-year-old son to a private school for an education that would enable him to become a surgeon.

Last week, The IoS revealed leaked documents showing plans by the Department for Education to place academies in the private sector, to save costs in Whitehall. The new document, revealed today, analyses what the 2010 Spending Review means for the DfE budget.

It says that the additional funding for the premium for disadvantaged pupils, additional funding for the academies programme, and keeping national funding for schools at the same "nominal level" per pupil "enabled the Chancellor to say that he had increased front-line schools budgets by 0.1 per cent in real terms in each year of the Spending Review period (subsequently referred to as the 'schools protection'). This is not in fact what is happening: schools are subject to a real terms cut in their funding because the rate of inflation is currently higher than forecast at the time of the Spending Review". The review period runs until 2014.

Despite the cut in funds because of higher inflation, Mr Osborne did not increase spending on schools in December 2012 to correct for the shortfall, he just claimed he was continuing "the protection". Spending has been maintained in cash terms – ie, before inflation is taken into account – on the £2.5bn pupil premium, the £1bn capital programme and per pupil funding in schools. Yet inflation has left schools with a real terms cut.

Labour's education spokesman, Stephen Twigg, said: "Michael Gove and David Cameron need to come clean. While the Tories promised to protect school budgets, this shows they are being cut. As the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies shows, education has had the biggest cut in spending since the 1950s. The truth is Michael Gove wants to take our schools backwards – reducing the budget to spend on one-to-one tuition and cutting money for repairs. All this threatens school standards."

The Treasury and the Department for Education declined to comment on a leaked document.

But a Treasury source said: "On the latest GDP deflator forecasts – available since this alleged DfE paper – the SR10 schools settlement is forecast to be above a 0.1 per cent average annual real growth rate across the Spending Review."

In December, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, Andrew Dilnot, rebuked the Prime Minister and the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, for claiming that NHS spending was increasing in "real terms" when it had fallen slightly in 2011/12. Labour had written to Mr Dilnot complaining that Mr Cameron's "misleading boasts" about protecting NHS spending were not true.

Mr Dilnot said: "On the basis of these figures, we would conclude that expenditure on the NHS in real terms was lower in 2011/12 than it was in 2009/10." The fresh row could lead to another complaint from Labour to Mr Dilnot.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Reach Volunteering: External HR Trustee Needed!

Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot