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Our Labour MP, Sandy Martin writes: In May, we warned that the Government’s “fairer funding formula” for schools was nothing of the sort: not fairer, as it took away support for schools that needed it the most; not improving funding, as every school in Ipswich – and most of Suffolk – would see a reduction in their funding; and not a formula for a decent education for our children.

We showed that, unless the Government allocated significantly more money to our schools, they would lose huge amounts —  £3 billion a year off the total schools budget in real terms by 2021.

 

Sandy Martin MP outside Copleston High School where he has served as a School Governor for many years

Schools didn’t just face cuts in their funding – there are changes to the tax system, the cost of the Apprenticeship Levy and the need to meet increases in pay to the staff.  Head teachers already have an impossible job in balancing the books and their determination to offer the best education for all their children is being undermined. 

The Conservatives’ arrogant assumption that they could ignore public opinion altogether is no longer an option for them. One of the changes they have had to make as a result of the Labour gains at the election is to introduce some additional money to support schools – but it is nowhere near enough. The Government seems to think that by being very slightly less ruthless than they originally intended, they can bamboozle the British public into thinking that they are improving our schools.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

A face-value rise of 2.1% in the context of 2.7% inflation, wage rises and the Apprenticeship Levy is actually a significant cut.  Suffolk schools have already seen costs rise, with staff and courses being cut and parents being asked to make up the shortfall for school equipment and school trips. The financial situation has already been described as ‘desperate’ by head-teachers.

According to analysis of Department of Education (DfE) data, pupil spending will fall to £4,347, down from £4,470 in 2010 and well below the funding received in both Essex and Norfolk. For primary school funding, Suffolk will receive £273 less per pupil than the national average; this figure increases to £415 less per pupil in secondary schools. This cut means Suffolk will remain in the bottom 50 authorities for both primary and secondary funding.

On nearly every single subject, including Reading, Writing and Mathematics, Suffolk falls behind the national average at primary level. Fewer secondary pupils achieve a C grade in GCSE Maths and English in Suffolk than they do nationwide. Our children aren’t thick – at Early Years assessment, children’s performance in Suffolk is about 1% better than the national average.  But our schools are unable to employ as many teachers and other staff as they would like – and the current cuts fall hardest on primary schools in Ipswich with the most disadvantaged pupils.

Not only do disadvantaged pupils do worse than non-disadvantaged pupils in Suffolk, they do worse than disadvantaged pupils in the rest of the UK as well. Ofsted told us that children with Special Educational Needs are basically being failed - “Insufficient resources have been allocated to ensure that children’s and young people’s needs are identified and reassessed”. The Conservatives say you can’t fix things just by throwing money at them, but having enough money to do the job properly is a good start.  And there is overwhelming evidence that, with the right funding and enough staff, all our schools can be more effective.

Under the Labour-led administration at Suffolk County Council, Suffolk was in the top quarter for educational performance.  The results our children got were much better than places like Hackney.  That’s why the Labour Government boosted low-performing local education authorities like Hackney, and gave enough money to schools with large numbers of disadvantaged pupils to enable them to raise the aspirations and achievements of those pupils – and it worked!

So what is the Conservative’s response? Not to do the same for non-London schools – no, their “Fair Funding” proposals reduce funding right across the board, and reduce it even more for those schools with more disadvantaged pupils, instead of extending the success of the London education project to schools in Suffolk and elsewhere. The answer is not “robbing Peter to pay Paul” – some schools in Ipswich and the rest of Suffolk are already high-performing, and their funding needs to be protected.  But for those schools where more staff and better results are needed, the Government should be improving their funding, not cutting it. 

ALL our children deserve a decent education.

Ipswich schools facing massive cuts - so much for the "fairer funding formula"

Our Labour MP, Sandy Martin writes: In May, we warned that the Government’s “fairer funding formula” for schools was nothing of the sort: not fairer, as it took away support...

It didn’t need a report by the National Audit Office to tell us that homelessness is rising, writes Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere.

The increase in the number of people sleeping rough is obvious in Ipswich and towns and cities across the country.

Labour in Ipswich, has been building new homes, but the government is making it increasingly difficult for us.

 

The NAO report  gives us precise figures though. The number of households in temporary accommodation has increased by more than half since 2011 to 77,000. The number of people sleeping rough has more than doubled to 4,000 since 2010.

The NAO identifies a wide range of factors that have led to this increase.

Private sector tenancies ending is now the single biggest cause of homelessness. This is a mushc bigger problem because more people are now renting from private landlords.

Private tenancies have become significantly less affordable as rent increases outstrip wage rises.

The NAO couldn’t be clearer about Government’s role in creating this crisis.

Rents are shooting up because we are not building enough houses, especially social housing. The Government has massively cut the amount of money it gives to Housing Associations to build new homes for rent. It is actively trying to stop councils like Ipswich building new social housing.

Despite huge rent rises, the Government is freezing Local Housing Allowance rates for four years. The Supporting People programme which provides help for vulnerable people to stay in their homes has been cut drastically.

Not mentioned in the NAO report, but which must be having an effect, are cuts in drug and mental health services and an increasingly punitive benefits sanctions regime.

The cost of this failure is huge: £1.15billion a year spent by councils on homelessness services.

The Government must support a huge programme of social house building. We’ve shown it can be done in Ipswich if the Government will let us.

Introducing 3 year housing tenancies, as Labour proposes, would reduce the number of people kicked out of their homes when their tenancy ends.

Cuts to Supporting People and drug and alcohol treatment services must be reversed and NHS mental health services properly funded.

That would at least start to help reverse the tidal wave of human misery that the Government’s housing policies have unleashed.

Government policies are fueling homelessness

It didn’t need a report by the National Audit Office to tell us that homelessness is rising, writes Borough Council Leader, David Ellesmere. The increase in the number of people...

On Wednesday, the House of Commons debated the effects the Pay Cap is having on the NHS, writes Ipswich MP, Sandy Martin.  

From 2010 to 2012 public sector pay was frozen, and since 2013 a 1% cap on wages has been in place.  As a result of the cap on pay, wages for our public-sector workers have fallen up to 14% below inflation since 2010.

 

 

The Government’s public sector pay cap has been a disaster for the NHS. The NHS Confederation, the Care Quality Commission, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, the British Dental Association and many more have called for the cap to be scrapped. Last year, nearly 30,000 nurses and midwives left the profession, a record number. We are 10,000 GPs, 3,500 midwives and 40,000 nurses short of the number we need. 

The Government has created a workforce crisis in the NHS which is causing misery for patients. Hospital wards and GP surgeries are chronically understaffed and waiting lists are spiralling out of control. In some towns, nurses are being forced to use foodbanks to make ends meet and NHS Providers say that staff are quitting the NHS to stack shelves instead. 2/3rds of nurses who replied to the Royal College of Nursing survey told them that they were having to moonlight or take on additional agency work in order to make ends meet. And agency fees are crippling the NHS financially – because they are unable to pay their directly-employed nurses enough, they end up by paying through the nose for agency staff to make up the shortfall. 

The Health Secretary says he has sympathy for underpaid health staff but sympathy won’t put food on the table, or meet the shortage of staff in our hospitals and surgeries. The Government recognise that there is a crisis, but they refuse to admit it publicly.  They commissioned the National Institute for Clinical Excellence to draw up safe staffing rules but then dropped the work when they realised how badly it would show up the failure of their pay policy. 

And it’s not just the NHS that is suffering.  The National Audit Office has revealed that 34,910 teachers left the profession for reasons other than retirement last year. Over the last 10 years Suffolk has lost 300 police officers – that’s over 21% of the total. Numbers of officers have gone down by 2,237 across England and Wales in just the last year.  Since 2010 the number of prison officers in England and Wales has reduced by over 13 ½ thousand across the UK. Increasingly, posts are being kept vacant or filled temporarily in our councils, because people are not putting themselves forward – and that’s despite councils having to shed staff left right and centre because of the government’s funding cuts. 

Right across our public services, a lack of trained and motivated staff is adding to the effect of government cuts in funding, and reducing the effectiveness of the service. The Government has now announced that they will lift the cap for Police Officers and Prison Officers, although they are still determined to give them a real terms pay cut this year. Over and over again, the Conservatives claim that they are paying people more, but in reality with inflation currently running at 2.7% then any pay rise which is less than that is actually a pay cut.  

And if we want to be safe from crime, then we must not only pay our police and prison officers properly, but also those who will keep youngsters away from crime in the first place – teachers, social workers, family liaison officers, drugs rehabilitation workers, mental health counsellors.  It is no coincidence that crime fell sharply from 1997 to 2010 when this country was governed by a party that actually believes in public services. 

Three months on from a general election at which the Tories’ public sector pay policy was decisively rejected, we still have no more details of what the Government plan to do. Labour pledged in our manifesto that we would lift the pay cap. We would re-introduce nursing bursaries, and expand the number of training places for doctors and teachers.  We recognise the importance of health and education to the British people, and the urgent need to encourage more of our own citizens to work in these vital areas. 

The pay cap is deeply unfair to public sector workers - in the end the reason the Government must listen to us and lift it is because it is also destroying the fabric of our society.

Sandy says: Government must act to end the pay cap

On Wednesday, the House of Commons debated the effects the Pay Cap is having on the NHS, writes Ipswich MP, Sandy Martin.   From 2010 to 2012 public sector pay was...

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