Minister admits first funding rate increase in 7 years is below inflation

The first 16 to 19 funding rate increase since 2013 fails to even pay for inflation, a minister has admitted.

As announced by chancellor Sajid Javid last year, every college and sixth form will receive at least £4,188 per student in this age group from August 2020.

This is a 4.7 per cent increase on current funding levels, which have been stuck at £4,000 since they were introduced in 2013.

But by using the most recent gross domestic product (GDP) deflators to calculate the value of the 2013 rate at 2019-20 prices, it “produces a figure of £4,435”, according to interim FE minister Michelle Donelan (pictured).

She disclosed the figure in an answer to a parliamentary question tabled by shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who has hit out at the government’s “utterly meaningless” promises to reverse FE funding rate cuts.

“The Tories have delivered devastating cuts to further education, and if they will not provide the funding needed then their promises to provide additional funding are utterly meaningless,” she told FE Week.

“Despite promising an end to austerity, it is clear that it will continue in colleges across the country, with the vast majority of Conservative cuts left in place in the years ahead. 

“A refusal to reverse their cuts in full proves the Tories are not serious about investing in further education. They only ever give with one hand after taking far more with the other.”

The 4.7 per cent base rate rise forms part of a £400 million package set aside for 16 to 19 education in 2020/21.

In her answer to Rayner’s parliamentary question, Donelan said this funding will be used to “ensure we are building the skills that our country needs”.

“This is the biggest injection of new money into 16 to 19 education in a single year since 2010, with funding increasing faster for 16 to 19 education than in five to 16 schooling,” she added.

“This includes a 4.7 per cent increase in the base rate to £4,188. With other funding announced, such as an additional £120 million of funding for high cost and high value subjects and £35 million to support students with Maths and English GCSE retakes, this represents an increase of around 7 per cent in overall 16 to 19 funding.”

Funding for future years beyond 2020-21 will be “considered as part of the next spending review”.