Is £14 billion being spent on education?

Published: 3rd Sep 2019

In brief

Claim

The government is spending £14 billion on primary and secondary education between now and 2022/23.

Conclusion

The increase is £4.3 billion by 2022/23 once you account for inflation. The £14 billion figure is unhelpful as it is the figure you get if you add up all the extra money spent on education in each year to 2022/23 compared to 2019/20 and doesn’t account for inflation.

“We're levelling up schools across the country by investing over £14 billion in primary and secondary education between now and 2022/23.”

10 Downing Street Twitter account, 31 August 2019

Last week the government announced a new package of spending for primary and secondary schools in England, which it claimed would total over £14 billion between 2019/20 and 2022/23.

But Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), has described this figure as “somewhere between meaningless and misleading”. The government’s announcement set out that, compared to this year, spending would be £2.6 billion higher in 2020/21, £4.8 billion higher the year after, and £7.1 billion higher in 2022/23.

That all adds up to £14.5 billion, but, as we’ve said before when the government made similar claims about the NHS, adding up multiple years funding is an unhelpful way to look at the spending increase. A number of news outlets chose not to report the £14 billion figure for that reason.

As we’ve said before, adding several years of spending together is simply not the normal way politicians talk about spending increases. They most commonly refer to spending on a per-year basis, or talking about the difference between the first and final year of spending. It’s not factually wrong—but it could be misleading. 

Spending is planned to increase by £7.1 billion between now and 2022/23, but that also doesn’t account for inflation (the change in how much things cost over time).

The £7 billion increase in spending by 2022/23 is actually £4.3 billion once inflation is accounted for, according to the IFS.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said: “Since 2009-10, school spending per pupil has fallen by 8% in real-terms in England.

“The new spending plans should be near enough sufficient to reverse these cuts by 2022-23.”

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