If you live in a poor area, you may soon start wondering why your local school is complaining about having no cash. Here’s the answer:
It’s because Boris Johnson and his Conservatives have quietly changed the way ‘pupil premium’ cash – allocated to children who are classed as deprived – to ensure that most of them could not be registered.
The pupil premium hands over £1,345 for every primary age pupil who claims a free school meal, or £955 for a secondary student.
Allocations have always been based on numbers registered by each January – but was suddenly – and secretly – switched to “the number of eligible pupils recorded by schools in their census in October 2020” – just a few weeks after the new school year started.
Many parents had not provided the necessary information by that time – they tend to need reminding of it because the Tories refused point-blank to introduce a fair system of automatic registration.
Schools in poorer areas are likely to lose around £40,000 each – the equivalent of a full-time teacher or two support staff. Schools in rich Tory areas are said to be likely to benefit.
This is ‘pork barrel’ politics – rewarding people who voted for the Conservatives with cash benefits.
It’s forbidden in election campaigns but sadly there is no way to prevent a government from diverting funding to benefit areas that voted for it; they’ll always have an excuse.
And they have one in this case. Accused of making the change when it was too late to act, the Department for Education responded that the intention was to “allow schools a chance to know their budget earlier in the year, helping them to plan ahead”.
How many had been complaining that they couldn’t plan ahead with the previous system? We’re not told that, which suggests the Tories just made up something they thought would sound good.
This revelation follows a previous discovery that the Tories have stripped £100 million of emergency funding from poorer parts of England – including many Covid-19 hotspots – and given it to Tory constituencies instead.
[The cash] is intended to fund getting rough sleepers off the streets and domestic abuse victims into safe accommodation, as well as to help manage funerals and bolster frontline services; all tasks more onerous in deprived areas with more virus cases.
The poorest areas in England lost funding, while the 10 richest areas enjoyed huge boosts.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it was providing funding in “the fairest way possible” but this rings hollow when compared with the black-and-white figures.
But it’s what the UK’s Tories voted for – a fat bung from a corrupt government, taken from the people who genuinely need the funds.
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