Lib Dems pledge education budget ringfence

Published on Monday, 16 June 2014 12:34
Written by Daniel Mason

The Liberal Democrats will include a promise to ringfence the entire education budget in their manifesto for next year's general election, Nick Clegg has said.

Making the announcement at a press conference today, the deputy prime minister said he had a "vision of an education system that starts early and keeps children engaged all the way through".

"That's why I believe we need to go further than the current protections for our schools," he added.

While the current coalition government has protected schools funding for five to 16-year-olds and the pupil premium, the Lib Dem pledge would be from "cradle to college", Clegg said - covering all education spending on two to 19-year-olds.

It would mean ringfencing an additional £10bn of education spending - some £7bn on 16 to 19-year-olds and £3bn on early years - rising annually in line with inflation, according to the Lib Dems.

"Money invested in our children is the best investment of all because education really can transform lives," Clegg said. "We believe education should be properly funded because education is the very core of a liberal society."

He added: "Any parent knows that a child starts learning from the moment they are born and carries on learning all the way into adulthood."

The Lib Dem leader did not say whether the policy would be a red line in any future coalition discussions following the election next May.

He said the party's manifesto would "not be written with an eye to what Labour or the Conservatives think or might sign up to".

Today's announcement follows Clegg's earlier pledge that all schools in England should have qualified teachers and follow a core curriculum.

But Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman said Lib Dem "collusion" with the Conservatives meant they could not be trusted.

"It is not surprising Nick Clegg wants his manifesto to focus on the future, not the past. The Lib Dem record is one of broken promises; he trebled tuition fees after promising to scrap them and joined with the Tories in increasing VAT after campaigning against it.

"His record is of collusion with the Tories and broken promises," she added.

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