Philip Hammond has failed to show how the sums add up on his flagship budget announcement of awarding about £250m for maths and computer teaching, according to Labour.
Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, highlighted a gap between Hammond’s statements that about £250m would be spent on improving teaching for those subjects, and the official budget scorecard, which allocates only £80m of spending in the next two years.
Labour said the Treasury should explain how and when the rest of the money would be spent on the six maths and computing teaching initiatives announced by the chancellor on Wednesday.
Rayner said: “This maths initiative was meant to be one of the flagship announcements of the budget but we are left with more questions than answers at this point. Frankly, ministers need to show us the working out on their own maths.
“Where are the millions being accounted for in the Treasury’s budget document? Will schools and pupils actually ever see the promised money? This funding is only a fraction of the amount that the Tories have already cut from school budgets. Now we’re not sure if and when it even arrive. A Labour government would reverse the cuts in full and protect school budgets in real terms – and, unlike the Tories, our plans are fully costed.”
As part of the budget, the Treasury promised £177m to promote maths skills, which would mean schools and colleges getting £600 for every additional student taking a maths A-level, and a sum of £84m to improve training of computer science teachers. However, the Treasury’s official budget scorecard specified £30m of spending on this next year and £50m of spending the year after that.
The Treasury did not make a comment but, it is understood, that a specific amount has been allocated for the initiatives only for the next two years, until the Department for Education comes under the next spending review.
The overall public spending forecasts until 2022/23 have been updated to reflect the cost of the initiatives but there are no detailed workings available for how the cash will be spread over the coming years.
Hammond has also been criticised for failing to increase spending on school budgets at a time when many headteachers are warning that they face unsustainable funding cuts.
At a rally on Thursday night, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said: “Other than a tiny amount for maths teaching there is not a penny more for education. But in the Black Country £49m is being cut from schools’ budgets. How are they supposed to cope?”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, claimed the money announced by the chancellor was not enough.
Courtney said: “The budget has failed the key tests the National Education Union set for the government on education funding. The chancellor has failed to reverse the real-terms education cuts, failed to provide new money to fully fund all areas of education, failed to level up funding to address historic underfunding and failed to guarantee the investment needed for future years.
“Offering schools in desperate financial circumstances £600 per student if they take up A-level maths could steer students towards subject choices that may not be in their interests. If this investment isn’t accompanied by significant new funding for schools then it won’t make enough of a difference to pupils’ life chances and skills development, and is a drop in the ocean compared to billions of real-terms cuts to per-pupil funding.”