Last week Gillian Keegan was asked questions regarding the funding for 16-19 year olds. Her response on 4th March was accurate but not very persuasive. As I wrote in yesterdays blog and in the Argus column she stated “We will increase the base rate of funding by 4.7%, from £4,000 to £4,188, for the academic year 2020/21. This is the biggest injection of new money into 16 to 19 education in a single year since 2010” Now of course most people who have been waiting for an income increase for many years will always welcome the smallest amount of increase and no one in the education setting will oppose an extra £188 for each student. However as Gillian’s colleague Bob Blackman stated in his question to Gillian two days earlier “In answer to written question 8315, my hon. Friend the Member for Chippenham (Michelle Donelan) confirmed that the rate of funding for 16 to 19-year-olds of £4,000 per student in 2013 would be worth £4,435 last year and £4,760 this year. However, the funding is at £4,188. Do Ministers agree that we should increase the rate, as recommended by the Select Committee on Education?”
The answer from Gillian Keegan then was “As my hon. Friend knows, the Government have announced increased funding for 16 to 19-year-olds of £400 million in 2020-21. That is the biggest injection of new money in a single year for a decade. As our manifesto made clear, there will be further investment in T-levels and further education college estates, and we will of course be looking again at further education funding as part of future spending reviews.”
There are many comparisons that people could make between the funding of the education for 16-19 year olds and other matters. A close but perhaps rather poor comparsion would be the funding handed out to people like Bob Blackman and Gillian Keegan. To be fair to Gillian she has only been an MP for less than 3 years as she was elected in 2017. However Bob has been an MP since 2010, so in 2013, when the 16-19 year olds were getting funding of £4,000 a year for their education, MPs like Bob and Gillians predecessor were earning £66,396 plus their expenses and other funding. So their pay was worth 16.5 student funding. This year as Gillian has explained the student funding is about to rise to £4,188 whilst the MPs payment will rise to £81,932 so that is worth the student funding for 19.5 students. Put it another way since 2013 as Gillian explained, the student funding has risen by 4.7% which is a reasonable amount in one year but not very much in 8 years whilst the MP payment has risen by 23.4% which is a significant amount in 8 years and an obscene amount for one year.
Perhaps Gillian who I know is determined to improve apprenticeships could call on her colleagues to increase the student funding to at least as much as the £4,760 which would represent 19% increase and indeed maybe they could go for a higher sum so that there would be some real increase compared to 2013.