Every so often an MP asks a question which leads everyone to wonder what they were doing in the past to ignore the impact of their own votes and the policies of their own Government. The decision by the Conservative Party to cut school funding year after year since 2010 is having a huge impact on schools throughout the UK and this is very clearly the case in East Sussex where Lewes is Maria Caulfield’s constituency and also the county town. In trying to make arguments for funding schools more effectively there are a number of criteria that one could take as an MP. However if one states that their own constituency should be treated as a special case they are bound to be told very clearly to go back to the drawing board. This is particularly true if their constituency is reasonably wealthy in the context of the County they are based in, given that the school funding in the UK takes place across Counties and not constituencies. The plan to ask all employers including the public sector that have a payroll in excess of £3m to make a small payment into a fund which will enable them to use the fund which will be matched by the Government to finance training for employees and new workers is actually one that most people would see as a good approach to take, even those of us who don’t support many of their policies. Inevitably most schools are too small to be impacted by this tax, but the good news is that when Maria’s Government finally get the system established (albeit already 2 years late), that the schools which do not pay the tax will also be able to benefit from this funding source for training as well, and indeed all companies outside of the public sector.
Of course working out that some Schools in her constituency would be impacted by the apprenticeship levy would have been reasonably easy at the time she supported the government in adopting this policy. In any case calling for funding for schools by the abolition of the training fund that the apprenticeship levy offers is a bit naïve, as is the idea of focusing on ones own constituency. Let us hope that if Maria and Damian get to hold their meeting that Maria will realise that in calling for funding for schools, an approach that many people would strongly support, that a very different tactic is what is needed if it is going to succeed.