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This week Labour announced its plan to invest in a National Education Service, which will establish a more skilled workforce and productive economy.
The Tories’ failure to guarantee every school the funding it needs has left many of Theresa May’s own MPs questioning their Government’s policies and priorities.
As Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner put it, “It speaks volumes that even Theresa’s own backbenchers realise her approach to school funding is simply an exercise in moving inadequate sums of money around. On top of this, their cuts to per-pupil spending will mean fewer teachers, cuts to school support staff and larger class sizes; while some schools are not even able to afford basic school repairs.”
By contrast, Labour is putting forward a positive vision for a better Britain that delivers a decent education for everyone. Our education policies will increase schools funding and introduce free, lifelong education in colleges as part of our wider aim to upgrade our economy.
Among our key pledges on schools is a commitment to reverse the cuts to school budgets by delivering a real terms increase in funding. This will enable us to guarantee free school meals for all primary school children and a reduction in class sizes to under 30 for all five, six and seven year olds.
Capital investment of £8 billion will ensure schools have the number of places they need and £13 billion to ensure that school buildings are up to standard.
Unlike the Tories, Labour recognises the importance of Further Education in ensuring everyone can get the education they and our economy needs. Further Education is particularly important in terms of lower income groups as well as people who fall out of education first time round and wish to re-enter education in adulthood.
To ensure no one is left behind, we will therefore both restore education maintenance allowance for college students and scrap fees on courses for adult learners looking to re-train or upskill. Specifically, we will increase the adult skills budget to £1.5 billion by the end of the parliament in order to abolish upfront fees and increase course funding by an average of 10 per cent year on year.
And, as we recognise that the most productive and modern economies in the world have a diverse and successful higher education sector, we will restore student grants for university students so no one is unable to study because their family can’t afford it.
As with all the policies we are announcing during the General Election campaign, these plans are fully costed.
Labour has previously announced extending free school meals to all primary age children will be funded by levying VAT on private school fees, and the other pledges announced today will be funded from the £20 billion that will be raised by reversing the Conservative Party’s cuts to corporation tax.
To explain this in detail, from next tax year, the headline rate of corporation tax will rise from its current 19 per cent to 21 per cent in 2018-19, 24 per cent in 2019-20 and 26 per cent in 2020-21. This will still leave it at the lowest rate in the G7. The small profits rate, payable by firms with profits below £300,000, will rise less sharply to 20 per cent in 2018-19 and 21 per cent in 2020-21.
The scale of the Tories’ proposed tax giveaways is vast. According to Treasury and Office for Budget Responsibility figures, the Tories’ tax giveaways are costing the exchequer £65 billion over the four years from 2018-19 to 2021-22, including £19.5 billion in the last year of the parliament. This contrasts with £46 billion based on the forecasts when the cuts were introduced.
We believe these resources should be used to invest in Britain’s future.
From the importance of retraining people in the modern economy to the pressing need for a more skilled workforce, investment in skills and education could not be more vital if the British economy is to meet the challenges ahead.
As we approach this landmark General Election, only Labour will build an education system accessible to everyone, not just the privileged few.