Letter: Education spending

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YOUR report "Defence gains as cuts hit education" (8 April) is wrong. The total increase for education in 1998-99 over 1997-98 is pounds 1.5bn. The figures which Anthony Bevins quotes fail to include the pounds 2bn student debt sale.

The facts are as follows. Total Department for Education and Employment cash plans for 1998-99 (after allowing for the debt sale and the transfer to local government of funds for nursery education) represent a cash increase of 6 per cent over 1997-98. This includes money for school repairs and the New Deal for the unemployed. Taken with increases for education in the local government budget of pounds 835m for England over the plans we inherited, the overall increase for all education spending is 5 per cent more than in 1997-98.

We are delivering already on our commitment - with more money for schools in revenue and capital terms, extra money for school books, more for literacy, nursery places for every four-year-old, extra money for class sizes and increases for further and higher education. That is the reality of our commitment - and the true figures bear this out.

DAVID BLUNKETT

Secretary of State for Education and Employment

London SW1

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