Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420-439)|
13 DECEMBER 2006
Q420 Mr Gauke: This is not to do
with the particular numbers, Chancellor. Imagine you are an economics
tutor explaining to a dim undergraduate, and I am the dim undergraduate.
If public expenditure is falling as a percentage of GDP, is that
a cut in public spending?
Mr Brown: I think you will have
to wait until you see the results of the review. Then you may
be quite surprised.
Q421 Mr Mudie: Chancellor, I will
come back to education but I want to ask you a question under
fairness for pensioners. Last week the Social Care Commission
reported that 100 out of 150 providers (I presume local authorities)
are no longer providing home help care to the elderly, unless
under very extreme conditions, which means thousands and thousands
of old people are not getting home help. In my constituency the
Evening Post carried a front page story yesterday of a
94-year-old war hero in a wheelchair who has been assessed as
not needing a home help. He gets by with a 78-year-old woman next-door
to him, who has osteoarthritis, doing his cleaning. Now, when
I raised this with the council they blamed the Government; they
say either cuts or they have been encouraged by the Government
to cut back on home helps. Can you enlighten us as to this, because
it is a totally unacceptable situation? I am regularly meeting
elderly ladies in their late-70s who, years ago, would have qualified
without question for a home help and are now neglected.
Mr Brown: The assessment of who
gets home help is not for the Government; the assessment of who
needs home help and who does not need home help is a matter for
the professionals who make that assessment. I cannot, Mr Mudie,
make a judgment as to whether your constituents should or should
not have home helps; that is a matter for the proper authorities.
What I do know is that the social care budget and the general
budget for social services continues to rise.
Q422 Mr Mudie: So you see no reason
why over the years fewer and fewer elderly people are getting
home help? The money is there you are saying.
Mr Brown: There are more elderly
people in the population, and many of them are very fit indeed.
When people need home help that is assessed by the proper authorities.
I cannot make a judgment from here
Q423 Mr Mudie: Of course you cannot.
Mr Brown: about whether people
need this home help and are deprived of it or not. What I do know
is that the social care budget continues to rise.
Q424 Mr Mudie: So you reckon if an
elderly person, 94 and in a wheelchair, with nobody else in the
household, is judged as not needing home help, it is not financial
reasons; you think the council have the money but they are setting
the criteria at a level. Do you accept that level?
Mr Brown: I cannot judge this
case. All I know is that I know 90-year-old pensioners who are
getting home help in, certainly, my constituency, and I think
in other constituencies around the country. I think you will find
that these assessments are made on an individual basis. Obviously,
the social care budget continues to rise and I hope that people
who need home help will get it.
Q425 Mr Mudie: That is a step forward.
I asked your officials, I think probably unfairly because it was
coldno warningsfor some figures, but you have now
had 24 hours and I am sure the worthy Jon, on your left, has provided
you with the figures. He is looking a bit worried, but somebody
should have. You put two pledges in the PBR (and we are going
back to schools). I think you got an answer to Angela wrong; you
said something about "every school over 15 years is eligible."
If you look closely it is over 15 years, half of primary schools
and half of secondary schools will either be refurbished or rebuilt.
The first thing is what is the starting year for that 15-year
Mr Brown: That has already started.
Q426 Mr Mudie: I know, but we do
not knowand we simply ask youwhich is the starting
Mr Brown: You will find that the
two statements are right. One is that the schools
Q427 Mr Mudie: The two statements
Mr Brown: which are eligible for
the refurbishment that is taking place under this programme are
mainly schools that are over 15 years old. So schools that have
been built in the last 15 years do not need the level of refurbishment
that we are talking about. The second point, however, that you
are making is that there is wave one already of the Building Schools
for the Future programme; it was launched in February 2004 in
the SR204 period (that is between 2004 and 2007) and £2 billion
a year has been spent on this programme. This programme then moves
into higher gear, contrary to what was being suggested by the
previous question, and more money is spent each year on the school
programme in future years as you move from waves one to three,
which covers 38 local authorities, to the next wave of authorities
in future years and then you have got the secondary school programme
as well as the primary school programme.
Q428 Mr Mudie: I am not sure where
that leaves us. The primary school refurbishment/rebuild, 15-year
programme, started in 2004; secondary started in 2004. Do we know
how many primary schools we have? Do we know how many secondary
schools we have? Therefore, if we have both figures we know how
many schools should be in the programme. Do we know? We did not
Mr Brown: I thought it was something
in the order of 31,000 schools.
Q429 Mr Mudie: Do they not brief
you beforehand, Chancellor?
Mr Brown: Three thousand one hundred
of the 3,500 secondary schools
Q430 Mr Mudie: Can you slow down
because we are trying to get this on the record. How many primary
schools and how many secondary schools?
Mr Brown: For secondary schools
it is 3,100 of 3,500 secondary schools, and I will give you in
a minute the figure for primary schools. Twenty-thousand primary
schools exist in the country. I think 90% are covered by this
Q431 Mr Mudie: Let us take secondary,
to start with. The officials can catch up with you on primary.
It is usually the other way round. That means you are committed
in Budget terms to rebuilding or refurbishing 1,500 secondary
schools in 15 years.
Mr Brown: I am saying about secondary
schools that 3,100 schools come within this programme.
Q432 Mr Mudie: I will settle for
that. That means we have 6,000 secondary schools and the programme
is to do half of them over 15 years.
Mr Brown: I am saying that the
number of schools covered in the secondary programme is 3,100.
I may have to correct that.
Q433 Mr Mudie: I will settle for
that figure. We have this absolutely difficult job of scrutinising
public expenditure, and it does not help when the Treasury will
not give us figures on just a simple thing like the number of
secondary schools in the country.
Mr Brown: The figure I have here,
which is a figure I read out in the House of Commons, is overall
around 3,100 of the 3,500 secondary schools in England will benefit
from Building Schools for the Future.
Q434 Mr Mudie: I will settle for
us being sent a note by your officials about how many schools.
That means either 1,500 or 3,000. You have started the programme
for three years. How many have you done in the three years? We
are tired of these programmes of 10-15 years that do not seem
to meet the targets. I am asking, after three years, where are
you? Are you on target?
Mr Brown: Waves one to three cover
38 local authorities, which is a quarter of all local authorities,
and nearly 400 schools, mainly in the deprived areas of the country,
are now under way for the BSF programme.
Q435 Mr Mudie: We are in some difficulty
here because we do not know how many schools. Again, I presume,
you will not object to providing us with a note of how many schools
are in both programmes and what was the estimated cost of that
Mr Brown: Three thousand one hundred
are in the full BSF programme. The number of primary schools in
the country is 20,000, and I have said that half the primary schools
in the country are covered by that.
Q436 Mr Mudie: Chancellor, I would
be happy with a note. One of the things I am perturbed about is
you have this programme and this budget and then last week, a
week before your PBR was published, the Prime Minister doubled
the number of academies, thereby upping the programme by £5
billion. Is that in your future public expenditure figures?
Mr Brown: Yes, the figures for
secondary schools will include city academies.
Q437 Mr Mudie: Can you tell us, what
is the average figure for secondary school rebuild or refurbishment
compared with the £25 million for the academies?
Mr Brown: I think £25 million
is the cost of one or two of the academies. I do not think
Q438 Mr Mudie: One was 30, Chancellor.
Mr Brown: I do not think it is
necessarily the cost of future academies, but the 3,500 secondary
schools include academies, and 3,100 are to be renovated, and
that will include academies.
Q439 Mr Mudie: In other words, if
we just sum this all up, can we get a note in the next few days
from your officials about the number, the costings, the estimated
cost and the spending and completions to date broken down by sector?
That would be very useful.
Mr Brown: Yes, I think we will
get a note from the Department of Education that we will pass