IFS - School spending per pupil in England protected to date; cuts of 7% or more possible in next parliament

26 Mar 2015 01:22 PM

Overall current, or day-to-day, school spending in England has been remarkably well protected under the coalition government. Between 2010–11 and 2014–15, there has been a 0.6% real-terms increase in current spending per pupil, though capital spending has been cut by over one third in real-terms.

Over the next parliament, current spending on schools could be squeezed harder. Although the commitments made by the three main UK parties are subtly different, they could all imply real spending per pupil falling by 7% or more between 2014–15 and 2019–20.

These are among the main findings of a new IFS Election Briefing Note on schools and education spending in England published today, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Other key findings on changes in education spending in England under the coalition government include:

Looking forwards, there are likely to be significant cost pressures on schools’ spending over the next parliament:

Looking at the commitments made by the three main UK parties:

Luke Sibieta, Programme Director at the IFS and author of the report, commented:

“School spending in England has been one of the most protected areas of public spending under the coalition government. However, it is likely to be squeezed harder in the next parliament. Schools face significant cost pressures from rising pupil numbers, increased employer pension and National Insurance contributions and potential upward pressure on wages.”

He added, “Plans announced by the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats could all imply school spending per pupil in England falling by around 7% in real-terms over the next parliament, or by up to 12% if we account for some of the specific cost increases schools are likely to face in the next few years.”