Education spending cuts? Telegraph figures called into doubt

The Daily Telegraph's front page today announces that, "Education spending to be cut by £100m." But a deeper look at the figures reveals that total spending by the Department for Children, Schools and Families will increase in real terms by 1.37% from 2009-10 to 2010-11. If expenditure on innovation, universities and skills is included, spending still increases by 0.68%.

The Daily Telegraph’s front page today announces that, “Education spending to be cut by £100m.” The story continues:

“Despite Gordon Brown pledging to safeguard spending on schools and universities, government documents show that the total education budget will fall by £100 million after the next election … The Treasury figures disclose that, while spending on schools will increase marginally next year by 0.8 per cent, this will be more than offset by the 2.4 per cent cut in spending on the areas of innovation, universities and skills. The result is an overall cut in spending on education.”

But a deeper look at the figures reveals that total spending by the Department for Children, Schools and Families will increase in real terms by 1.37% from 2009-10 to 2010-11. If expenditure on innovation, universities and skills is included, spending still increases by 0.68%.

The £100m reduction cited in the Telegraph story comes from a United Nations-specific classification. This number has fallen for the first time in many years but excludes over £4 billion of spending items in 2010-11. The quoted percentages exclude “Annual Managed Expenditure.” These are spending commitments that cannot reasonably be restricted to three-year cycles and include social security and other payments.

Total Managed Expenditure, the overall measure of government spending, includes both Departmental Expenditure Limits – used in the Telegraph story – and Annual Managed Expenditure. Combining these two figures (by adding real terms figures in Tables 1.6, 1.11 and 1.13 of the “Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses“) provides a different picture as the Chart above shows.

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