Select Committee on Treasury Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240-259)

MR JON CUNLIFFE, MR DAVE RAMSDEN, MR MARK NEALE, MR JOHN KINGMAN AND MS MRIDUL BRIVATI

12 DECEMBER 2006

  Q240  Mr Gauke: Looking specifically at the announcement in the PBR.

  Ms Brivati: We have now made progress on the capital side with the announcement on capital spending in the PBR.

  Q241  Mr Gauke: How much of the capital spending announcement in the PBR relates to schools and how much to colleges and universities? The evidence we received from the IFS yesterday was suggesting that it essentially related to colleges and universities and not schools.

  Ms Brivati: The total amount of spending relates to both schools and colleges and universities.

  Q242  Mr Gauke: But the additional amounts.

  Ms Brivati: The additional money is £250 million for FE colleges.

  Q243  Mr Gauke: So the additional capital expenditure announced by the Chancellor in the PBR relates to FE colleges, not schools?

  Ms Brivati: The announcement in the PBR related to schools and colleges and was a capital settlement for the Department for Education and Skills.

  Q244  Mr Gauke: Is it possible to break down the announcement in the PBR? How much of that money is going to schools for capital expenditure?

  Ms Brivati: I have that number but not readily, if you would let me come back to it. [3]

  Q245 Mr Gauke: I would be grateful. Would you be able to give it to us this morning?

  Ms Brivati: Yes.

  Q246  Mr Gauke: I would be grateful for that. On current spending on schools, what is the new money there that the Chancellor announced in the PBR?

  Ms Brivati: Let me search my brief and find that for you.

  Q247  Mr Gauke: One final question: the Chancellor's aspiration relates to independent schools. He has also talked about the capital spending figures for independent schools. On what basis does the Treasury determine what the figures are for independent schools? There has been some press comment, certainly, that independent schools are at a loss to know where the Treasury is getting the numbers from. I would be grateful to know.

  Ms Brivati: We use a variety of data sources, including from the collective body which represents independent schools—whose name escapes me for the moment.

  Q248  Mr Gauke: Anything else? You say a variety of data sources.

  Ms Brivati: Data provided to us by the Department for Education and Skills, for example.

  Q249  Mr Mudie: Staying on education, can I take you to page 147. You refer to a long-term programme of refurbishment and replacement of secondary schools, you say over 15 years. You refer to the secondary schools as "over 15 years", but in the preceding paragraph, for primary schools, you say "over around 15 years". Why the hell "over around" for primary, and what does "over around" mean in accountancy terms? Why do you not just put the additional word "maybe over around" and it would make it even clearer?

  Mr Cunliffe: We are gratified the documents are read that closely, but do we know the answer?

  Q250  Mr Mudie: It was in last year's Budget book as well—"over around". It would be useful if you had a look at that. We will accept "maybe" in future but "over around" seems hedging your bets, in a way Mr Fallon would certainly not accept in order to prevent forecasting errors. However, aspirations in targets, etc, etc When did the 15 years start for each? We do not want a Golden Rule here, where we discover it starts next year or it started—when did it start?

  Ms Brivati: I think the Building Schools for the Future programme began in the SR04 period or, possibly, SR02 period.

  Q251  Mr Mudie: Which would give me a starting date of when?

  Ms Brivati: Of 2004-05. Let me check that. I would not want to give you—

  Q252  Mr Mudie: Is that for secondary?

  Ms Brivati: That is for both of them.

  Q253  Mr Mudie: I will give you the context in which I ask this question. The Chancellor brought forward the Millennium Goals and we were going to give education to every Third World child, etc After a few years this Committee actually pinned the Chancellor down to accept that at the current rate of progress it would take 120 years for some of the goals to be achieved. What are we doing with these schools? For example, how many secondary schools do we have? Do we know? Do you know how many primary schools we have?

  Mr Cunliffe: We have that information but I do not have it with me, no.

  Q254  Mr Mudie: We are anxious to know. We have got a 15-year programme to refurbish or rebuild. How many have we done at what individual cost? I am coming on to child poverty figures: are we below or above? Do we know? Do you know?

  Mr Cunliffe: I do not have the—

  Q255  Mr Mudie: Why not? Are you not in charge of the Budget? If you put a 15-year programme on but we do not know how many schools, I presume you do not know the average cost of the refurbishment or rebuild. After two or three years with this programme in being we do not know where we are relative to the target.

  Ms Brivati: It is known it is just that we do not know.

  Mr Cunliffe: We can certainly write to you—

  Mr Mudie: Some aspiration.

  Q256  Mr Todd: Somebody knows.

  Ms Brivati: They are in the Department for Education and Skills, who are in charge of this programme.

  Q257  Mr Mudie: Another aspiration. How much have we spent on academies and is that part of the same programme, part of the same budget? They are costing £25 million each. How many have we done? Are we on target? Are the figures in this Budget book, ensuring that the target of 200 academies is met, on target? How do we know?

  Mr Cunliffe: I make a general point that these programmes are for the Department for Education to carry through.

  Q258  Mr Mudie: I am sure they are but they cost money and you give them the money.

  Mr Cunliffe: Yes, that is true; we give money right across government for a range of targets that are reported on by individual departments. We will certainly come back to you.

  Q259  Mr Mudie: Jon, what do those words mean, they are a matter for the department? First of all, they are matter for you because you are paying for them.

  Mr Cunliffe: The carrying out of the programme and implementation is for the department.


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