The 8 per cent school budget cut: what is it?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that school per-pupil funding could fall by 8 per cent by 2020. But what does that actually mean?

The IFS, a prominent think tank, has set out its belief that increasing costs and pupil numbers mean resources per pupil could fall “significantly”.

Those costs referred to by the IFS include the 1 per cent per year public pay settlement, which was announced in the summer budget. They also include increased employer national insurance contributions which come into force next April. There’s also the recent increase in the amount employers must pay into pensions.

The IFS says that, taking those together with pressures “on other costs”, it forecasts school spending per pupil will fall by 8 per cent in real terms over the course of this Parliament.

Percentage Changes in School Spending and Cost Factors, 2010-11 to 2019-20
Percentage Changes in School Spending and Cost Factors 2010 11 to 2019 20

According to the think tank, it’s not the worst news we could have received. Around the time of the election, it had predicted the cut would be closer to 12 per cent.

But although the organisation said the “tighter” than expected 1 per cent pay settlement will “ease pressure on school costs”, it could affect teacher recruitment and retention.

A Department for Education spokesperson has said the government is “committed” to making sure schools are funded fairly, “so all pupils have access to a good education”.

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