Published in the Northern Powerhouse Strategy alongside the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the Government have announced a £10m reduction in funding to the Northern Schools Strategy, raising concerns from Imran.
Unveiled at the 2016 Budget by the then Chancellor, George Osborne, the Northern Schools Strategy set out £20m of funding for each year for four years, coming to a total of £80m, to improve education in the North of England, a move welcomed at the time by Imran whose calls for a ‘Bradford Challenge’, building on the success of the London Challenge, the Strategy closely resembled.
However, at the recent 2016 Autumn Statement, the Treasury published their Northern Powerhouse Strategy setting out their plans for the region, which only included a £70m funding commitment to the Schools Strategy, serving as a reduction of £10m on the original figure set out in the 2016 Budget earlier in the year.
This reduction has been met with concern by Imran who claims that the reduced figure will not be able to cover the full cost of what is needed to improve schools in the North, and he has called on the Government to fully explain why they have reduced the level of funding, and why they have delayed the publication of the findings of Sir Nick Weller’s report on, and recommendations for, the Strategy.
Speaking on the announcement, Imran said:
“At the 2016 Budget I cautiously welcomed the then Chancellor’s announcement that the Government would invest £80 million in schools in the North over four years, but I am extremely concerned that the Government has now seemingly wiped £10 million of funding from the Strategy without any real explanation, putting educational improvements in the North at risk.
“I hope that the Government has not used the spectacle of the Autumn Statement to distract attention away from this announcement on reducing funding for the Schools Strategy, and I will be pressing them to explain the reduction, and also on why it has taken so long to publish Sir Nick Weller’s report when I received assurances that it would be published in October this year.”