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Burnham For Mayor

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Andy's comments in the House of Commons today on Academy funding

Today’s Financial Times reports that the Department for Education has paid many academies in England large amounts more than they were entitled to.

This news comes just days after the Secretary of State caved in to a legal claim from 23 local authorities, who have responsibilities to maintained schools, that too much money had been removed from their budgets by the Government.

It raises a simple question: does the Secretary of State have a grip on his budget?

But where is he? On the day that serious questions are being asked about whether he has properly funded plan to back up the rapid expansion of his academy programme, only this Secretary of State could be in Birmingham announcing a further major expansion of it.

Why is he not here making that Statement to Parliament?

Shouldn’t he be here to reassure Members that he can fairly and efficiently fund more academies without penalising other schools in their constituencies?

Will the Minister tell the House how many schools have been over-funded and what is the total amount is that has been paid in error?

Will this money now be clawed back from schools, as the Secretary of State appeared to suggest on the radio this morning?

Had the Department spotted this budgeting mistake before it appeared in the FT? If it had, what action was it taking to correct it? If not, why not?

Under threat of legal action, the Government has announced a U-turn on academy funding.
Can the Minister set out the details and timetable for his review?

Given that it potentially will affect school and council budgets for next year, can he assure schools that he will carried out with urgency?

Isn’t it the case that the Secretary of State repeatedly finds himself in these positions because he rushes ahead and fails to consult people on changes.

We’ve been here before on school sport, EMA and Building Schools for the Future.

The only way people can make him listen is to launch a legal action. That’s no way to run a Department.
This is the third time in a year that he has been forced to change course on funding under threat of legal action
In the past year, the Secretary of State has spent more money on solicitors’ fees than Ryan Giggs and Fred Goodwin put together.

How much have they spent on legal costs in the last year and isn’t this a scandalous waste when every penny is needed for children?

The Secretary of State is today raising the floor targets for secondary schools and focusing the academy programme on struggling schools.

These are Labour policies and we are pleased at his dramatic conversion.

We support raising standards in our schools. But it’s the standards of the Secretary of State and his basic numeracy that we worry about.

Perhaps the plan we needed today was for poorly-performing Government Departments to be taken over by successful ones – only trouble is there aren’t any.

On the radio today, the Secretary of State pathetically tried to blame Labour for his latest blunder.
Isn’t time that he took responsibility for his own serial incompetence before people lose confidence in him altogether?