Ian Austin

Independent for Dudley North

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Buried in the small print: School academies budget and student opportunities fund both slashed

Research by Ian Austin MP shows that investment in education is being slashed, despite the Chancellor's claims.


Despite the Chancellor’s claims that yesterday’s spending review “prioritises investment in education” and offers “new financial support for further and higher education”, the small print reveals that funding for academy schools and poor and disabled university students are both being slashed.

Research by Ian Austin MP, who chairs the Labour Party’s Parliamentary Education Committee and is a member of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, shows that:

  • The Spending Review Blue Book states that the Education Services Grant is being cut by £600 million (1). The grant was worth £1.02 billion last year and paid academies £113 per pupil, so this amounts to a direct cut in the academy schools budget (2).
  • Treasury documents also say the government will “ask the Higher Education Funding Council for England to retarget and reduce the student opportunity fund” (3), but buried in the BIS documents is the news that it will be reduced by “up to half” (4).  The fund was £380 million for 2015/16 to enable universities to meet the additional costs of outreach work to recruit and supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds and students with disabilities, and work to retain students who may be less likely to continue their studies (5).

Ian Austin said:

“As usual, the small print of the government’s documents reveals the truth. George Osborne said he was investing in Britain’s future and prioritising investment in education, but is slashing funding for the academy schools programme and halving the fund for disabled and disadvantaged university students.

“Everyone knows savings have to be made, but these decisions will hit schools and Britain’s poorest students when the government should be making education our number one priority.”


  1. Page 90, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/479745/HM_Blue_Book_Complete.pdf
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/410100/The_Education_Services_Grant.pdf
  3. Page 92, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/479745/HM_Blue_Book_Complete.pdf
  4. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/department-for-business-innovation-and-skills-settlement-at-the-spending-review-2015
  5. http://www.hefce.ac.uk/funding/annallocns/1516/lt/

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