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Commenting on the Spending Round, Ryan Shorthouse, director of Bright Blue, said:

“Over the past decade of fiscal retrenchment, some government departments and services have been disproportionately deprived of funding, as others have been protected. This unbalanced and unfair approach will rightly end next year. Some public services that have been palpably struggling, such as further education, local councils, social care and the Crown Prosecution Service, will get necessary cash injections.”

“The significant increase in funding for education, to ensure per pupil funding is rising and starting salaries for teachers become competitive, is impressive and welcome. Boosting levels of human capability and creativity is the surest way to secure and sustain higher levels of prosperity in this country.”

“It is intriguing that this Conservative Government, both with its new enthusiasm for increased spending and leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement, seems to not be very conservative, fiscally or institutionally. Public debt is still historically and internationally high, and needs reducing if future taxpayers are to avoid being burdened. Politically, if the case for fiscal discipline is not being made, this could weaken public support for a centre-right government.”

Education and training

  • The Government is providing a £7.1 billion (£4.6 billion above inflation) increase in funding for schools by 2022-2023, which includes an increase of the minimum per pupil amount to £4,000 for primary schools and £5,000 for secondary schools
  • The Government is giving additional £700 million to support the education of children and young people with special educational needs
  • The Government is adding a further £400 million into further education funding, with £210 million of it going into targeted interventions such as English and Maths resits and T levels
  • The Government is increasing early years spending by £66 million to improve the hourly rate of childcare providers delivering the Early Years Free Entitlement
  • The Government is providing £7 million to expand Jobcentre adviser support in schools for young people with special educational needs and extending eligibility for Access to Work to internships for disabled people

Commenting, Ryan Shorthouse, director of Bright Blue, said:

“The significant increase in funding for education, to ensure per pupil funding is rising and starting salaries for teachers become competitive, is impressive and welcome. Boosting levels of human capability and creativity is the surest way to secure and sustain higher levels of prosperity in this country.”

“As the revenue for higher education has swelled this decade, further education has been starved of sufficient funding. The increased spending on further education is a welcome start.”

“The best way to improve educational attainment is to start early. In its admirable aim to boost funding for education, the Government should not forget pre-school education. The key here is to boost the quality of its workforce. Any new government funding on formal childcare, including through the Early Years Free Entitlement, should be specifically for this.”

Welfare

  • The Government is providing an additional £40 million of funding for Discretionary Housing Payments
  • The Government is providing an additional £23 million for activities such as improving support for vulnerable claimants migrating to Universal Credit and additional outreach activities for homeless claimants
  • The Government is giving an additional £36 million for improving decision-making and establishing a new independent Serious Case Panel for safeguarding purposes

Commenting, Anvar Sarygulov, researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“Bright Blue research has shown that specific Universal Credit claimants, such as people with physical and mental health disabilities, often find it challenging to budget effectively. Hence, the focus on improving support for a range of vulnerable claimants is welcome.”

“However, there are still some big changes to Universal Credit that are needed, such as enabling claimants to access their initial award payment earlier, and granting greater flexibility in the way claimants receive their money. The DWP needs the powers and resources to do this.”

Social care

  • The Government announced an additional £1 billion for adult and children’s social care as part of the Local Government settlement
  • The Government will also consult on a 2% precept to enable councils to access a further £0.5 billion for adult social care 

Commenting, Sam Robinson, researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“The crisis in social care demands attention and it is good to see the Government acknowledging this. The extra £1.5 billion for local authorities announced in the Spending Round is enough to stabilise the system, but is not a sustainable solution. The Government needs to think radically and propose bold solutions, just not in the middle of a general election campaign.”

Homelessness

  • The Government is committing an additional £54 million to reduce homelessness and rough sleeping, representing a 13% real terms increase

Commenting, Anvar Sarygulov, researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“The rise in rough sleeping in the past decade is a national scandal. It is good to hear that the Government is not content with the massive number of people who do not have a place to call home and is providing additional funding to end this crisis as quickly as possible.”

“This country was once close to ending rough sleeping. Other countries are. There should be no excuses for one of the wealthiest countries on the planet.”  

English as a second language (ESOL) provision

  • The Government announced £10 million additional funding for English as a second language (ESOL) provision

Commenting, Sam Robinson, researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“While the Government’s announcement of some extra funding to boost ESOL provision is welcome, it is worth noting that the number of learners enrolled on ESOL courses and the amount of funding available for ESOL has fallen considerably over the past decade.” 

“The Government needs to be more ambitious. One way of doing this would be extending the Controlling Migration Fund beyond 2020 and allocating a significant and minimum proportion to ESOL.”

The environment

  • The Government will deliver a £30 million increase in funding for air quality
  • The Government will provide an additional £30 million to support the maintenance and restoration of vital habitats for wildlife, help deliver commitments made on the Blue Belt, implement the Ivory Act, and enhance the UK’s global leadership on biodiversity
  • The Government has committed an extra £20 million to support a CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) rural payments replacement post-Brexit 

Commenting, Patrick Hall, researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“The costs of air pollution to our health, environment and economy are considerable. The UK Government has been repeatedly taken to court for failing to comply with legal limits on concentrations of nitrogen dioxide. The Government keeps incrementally increasing funding for policies to reduce air pollution. But, in reality, local government needs much greater responsibilities and funding to tackle what is a pressing public concern. As a first step, the Government should enable local or combined authorities to make reasonable profits from the administration of clean air zones, which could generate funding for local scrappage schemes or increased electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”

International Development

  • The Government has announced £30 million in additional funding to conserve and enhance biodiversity in developing countries via Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), as well as to halt global decline in biodiversity
  • The Government has committed to at least £250 million in funding towards international climate and environment funds, as well as the Green Climate Fund (the leading fund for achieving Paris Agreement targets)

Commenting, Patrick Hall,  researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“Even though the UK is one of the world’s largest contributors of international aid, funding towards global nature conservation have been comparatively low in contrast to other countries such as Germany and the USA. But sustainable ecosystems and communities are critical for poverty alleviation.”

“The Government is right to increase funding for biodiversity and climate change through the international aid budget, as Bright Blue has long been calling for.”

Net-zero

  • The Government will provide an extra £30 million for BEIS to develop programmes that work towards the Government’s target of net zero emissions by 2050

Commenting, Patrick Hall,  researcher at Bright Blue, said:

“There was a strong scientific, technological and political case for the UK becoming the first major economy to adopt a net-zero emissions target. However, there is much to do to achieve this ambitious target.”

“Given the Government’s own analysis suggests it is not on track to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, there is a need for stronger investment and incentives in particular sectors of the economy – especially the domestic, transport and energy sectors – to enable deeper decarbonisation.”