Memorandum submitted by Tony Travers,
specialist adviser to the Committee
DCSF DEPARTMENTAL REPORT 2009
Education expenditure plans as a proportion of
gross domestic product (GDP)
1.1 Table 1 shows public expenditure on education
(including schools, FE, universities, and training) in the United
Kingdom was equivalent to 5.8% of GDP in 2008-09, following a
period of increase since 1997-98. The sharp rise in 2008-09 was,
however, in part because of the sudden slow-down in economic growth
at the end of that year. Spending had increased as a share of
the economy during the period of economic expansion up to 2007-08,
so the resources made available over the longer term have increased
significantly in real terms.
PUBLIC EXPENDITURE ON EDUCATION AS A % OF
GDP, 1997-98 TO 2008-09UNITED KINGDOM
|Education % of GDP||4.6
Source: Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2009, Cm
7630, London: TSO Table 4.4
1.2 Table 1 shows overall UK public education expenditure as a
proportion of GDP. Table 2 shows changes in real terms spending
on each phase of education in each year since 1997-98, including
those now within the new Department for Business, Innovation and
(ALL) EDUCATION EXPENDITURE, BY SUB-SECTOR, 1997-98
TO 2008-09ENGLAND £ MILLION, IN REAL TERMS (2007-08
|1997-98 to 2002-03
|Further Education/Adult & Community
|HE Student Support||1,625
|Admin, inspection etc||1,621
|2003-04 to 2008-09
|Further Education / Adult & Community
|HE Student Support||739
|Admin, inspection etc||1,558
Source: Departmental Report 2009, Department for Children,
Schools and Families, Cm 7595, Table 8.5
1.3 Table 3 follows the expenditure heads in Table 2, but
shows the percentage change in the share of the total taken by
each in 2007-08 and 2008-09. That is, it shows changes in relative
priority in spending between the most recent two years. There
was a clear relative move from current to capital expenditure
within schools, with primary and secondary schools' current spending
each declining by about half of one percentage point. Under fives
had a modest relative increase in its current spending, implying
a small overall shift from primary/secondary stages to under fives.
(ALL) EDUCATION EXPENDITURE, BY SUB-SECTOR, 2007-08
AND 2008-09SHARES OF TOTAL
||2007-08 and 2008-09|
|Further Education/ Adult & Community
|HE Student Support||2.4
|Admin, inspection etc||2.8
Source: Derived from Departmental Report 2009, Department
for Children, Schools and Families, Cm 7595, Table 8.5
1.4 Table 4 summarises spending per pupil for schools in
each year since 1997-98. Expenditure per pupil has risen in each
year and continues to rise faster than the real increase in spending
REAL TERMS REVENUE FUNDING PER STUDENT/PUPIL, 1997-98
TO 2008-09 (1997-98 = 100)
Source: Departmental Report 2009, Department for Children,
Schools and Families, Cm 7595, London:TSO, Table 8.7
2. DEDICATED SCHOOLS
2.1 Allocations of Dedicated Schools Grant (government resources
allocated to councils who must then distribute them to schools)
have been announced for the years up to 2010-11. Basic per pupil
allocations of DSG will rise by 2.9% in 2010-11. Funding for ministerial
priorities (allocated outside the DSG) will add to these figures,
leading to an overall year-to-year rise per pupil of 4.3% in 2010-11.
2.2 DCSF and its predecessor DfES have been reviewing the funding
of schools for a number of years. A further review is now well
under way, with a view to developing a new formula for allocating
DSG between authorities which, if it were introduced, would apply
from 2011-12 onwards.
2.3 The current review is intended to examine the possibility
of developing a single transparent formula for the distribution
of DSG, to take account of relative need and the different costs
associated with pupils in different areas. PricewaterhouseCoopers
have been commissioned by the DCSF to review a number of issues,
Additional educational needs.
The Area Cost Adjustment.
2.4 It is evident from these papers produced for the DSG
review that it is following the lines of research that were, for
many years, followed by local government finance more generally.
The papers present research which attempts to weight the costs
of different kinds of needs and costs in relation to pupils and
schools. At the end of the process, ministers will have to decide
whether or not they wish to move to a new DSG formula. Such a
formula would have the advantage that it would more accurately
reflect changes in the pattern of need over time than the present
arrangements. On the other hand, any move to a new system for
allocating money would produce "gainers" and "losers".
Redistribution of this kind is rarely popular, particularly at
a time of constrained resources.
2.5 The choice remains between, on the one hand, broadly
freezing per capita allocations where they are today and, on the
other, allowing for possible redistributions of money between
schools in different circumstances. In recent years, the Government
has favoured "frozen" allocations, with little school-to-school
redistribution, on the grounds that such an approach results in
less adverse response from "losers". It is possible
they will continue to do so.
3.1 The "education" part of the Department's responsibilities
is laid out in far more detail in the Departmental Report than
the sections relating to social services, children and families.
Chapter 8 of the report provides extensive information about expenditure
in each phase of education but far less about, for example, children's
social services. Given the public prominence given to the debate
about children's services during the past year, it is (to say
the least) odd that there is very little comprehensive information
about social service or other non-school provision for children
3.2 Thus, the Departmental Report has a number of references
to "children's social services" and to "children's
services". In the parts of the report that deal with Lord
Laming's report The Protection of Children in England: A Progress
Report it is stated that the Government has provided "£58
million in additional funding to support social work recruitment,
retention, training and development. This takes the Government's
investment in children and families' social work to £130
million in the current 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review period
3.3 But there are no spending lines within any of the DCSF
tables that show the overall level of funding for children's social
services or children's services. The Department is, in effect,
announcing additional spending on an unknown base. It is not possible
to compare overall funding from year to year, or over time. Chapter
2 includes a Departmental Strategic Objective (DSO2) concerned
with "Safeguarding the young and vulnerable" which has
a section on "Children's Social Care" that includes
targets and indicators relating to important matters such as the
time taken to make core assessments for children's social care.
However, the report does not state which bodies are responsible
for achieving this objective nor how much money they have received
in recent years.
3.4 The failure to report on the total or sub-heads of spending
on children's social services or children's services cannot be
a result of the fact that funding for such services comes partly
from central government grants and partly from council tax. Table
8.6 reports local government spending on education in significant
detail (eg, for school meals), regardless of whether funding is
derived from central or local sources. Moreover, the Department
of Health's Departmental Report includes extensive reporting
about adult social services, including detailed expenditure information,
despite the fact that spending, as with children's services, is
funded partly by council tax. It would be possible to provide
equivalent detail about provision for children's social services.
However, the Department has chosen not to.
4. OBJECTIVES, PUBLIC
(PSA) AND TARGETS
4.1 Despite efforts to reduce the number of performance-driving
objectives, PSAs and targets, a significant number remain in place.
There are a number of ways of analysing this process, for example
by the scale of the exercise still being undertaken or by looking
at achievement against target. Latterly, the Government has set
much store by setting cross-departmental PSAs. Page 16 of the
Departmental Report states: "PSA 12 sets out the joint
responsibility of the Department for Children, Schools and Families
and the Department of Health to improve child health and wellbeing
in five priority areas to 2010-11". The five priority areas
relate to: breastfeeding, school lunches, childhood obesity, emotional
health and wellbeing, and parents' experience of services for
4.2 These are new indicators and have not been fully developed.
However, the presentation of the joint PSAs is significantly different
in the Department of Health's departmental report
as compared with the DCSF's efforts. The "school lunches"
indicator is not mentioned at all by the Health department. The
different approaches adopted within the departments' respective
reports is not encouraging. Moreover, differences in presentation
make it hard for readers to see the links between the efforts
made by the two parts of government.
5. THE DEPARTMENT
5.1 Last year, the Committee was critical of aspects of the
layout of the DCSF's first departmental report. Efforts have been
made in the second annual report to improve the layout and contents,
in particular to create a logical set of links between the Department's
own Strategic Objectives and the Government's 30 Public Service
Agreements (PSAs). Table 1.1 of the Departmental Report 2009
shows the "Outcomes Framework" now used.
5.2 It is clear the DCSF has made substantial efforts towards
making links between Government priorities and individual expenditure
programmes. But it is still hard to link Strategic Objectives,
PSAs, the institutions responsible for delivering public services
and the resources such institutions use into a coherent whole.
The difficulty the DCSF has in linking the Government's overall
objectives, the institutions responsible for service delivery,
money spent by these institutions and the indicators used to assess
progress remains a problem for the Committee. It is not clear
which organisation should be held to account for which elements
in the delivery of which outputs and outcomes.
5.3 Table 8.1 of the report, which is a summary of the Department's
total spending is suggestive of the difficulties officials have
had in creating a coherent document. The table shows "resource"
and "capital" spending under the following heads:
Activities to support all functions.
5.4 "Schools" is straightforward enough, though
it includes quangos such as the Training and Development Agency.
"Young People" is less clear, including sub-heads as
varied as Learning & Skills Council, Education Maintenance
Allowances and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. "Children
& Families" includes (among others) Sure Start, Special
Educational Needs, Child Wellbeing and the Office of the Children's
Commissioner. "Area Based Grant" is simply a funding
stream. None of these headings appears directly to include children's
5.5 In Table 8.1 and elsewhere, the DCSF is generally providing
a list of funding streams to educational bodies, as opposed to
showing the resources given to the institutions charged with delivering
outputs and outcomes. Without being able to identify what money
is spent on which institutions in pursuit of particular objectives,
it will be hard for the Committee to hold anyone apart from the
Secretary of State to account.
5.6 Lastly, the layout and contents of the Departmental
Report suggest the Department for Children, Schools and Families
has not evolved very far from being a "schools department".
Other aspects of its work remain hard to describe and hold to
Department of Health Departmental Report 2009, Cm 7593,
Figure A24. Back
Department of Health Departmental Report 2009, Cm 7593,
pp 237-263. Back