Blunkett push for an extra billion

July 10, 1998

EDUCATION secretary David Blunkett is looking for at least Pounds 1.6 billion extra for education from next week's comprehensive spending review.

Mr Blunkett told MPs on Tuesday that the department was seeking to increase the proportion of gross domestic product spent on education from 4.7 per cent to at least 4.9 per cent, a minimum of Pounds 1.6 billion.

He was confident that the department's cash demands would be met in the CSR, the results of which he said would be published next week. The CSR will set departmental spending for the next three years and beyond.

MPs in the Commons' education and employment select committee were worried that if economic output fell then education's share of the GDP would decrease in actual cash terms. Mr Blunkett said that he hoped for GDP growth but that his objective would remain securing new resources for education.

Mr Blunkett was asked by committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge whether there would be additional new money to fund Tony Blair's extra 500,000 students in further and higher education. He said there would have to be because he did not want a situation where underfunding leads to the deterioration of quality.

The education secretary was less optimistic about securing capital for building projects in colleges and universities. But he said he hoped the CSR would provide more money for capital investment in information technology.

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