MP hits back over "scaremongering" education cuts claim

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson has hit back at what he claims was “misleading scaremongering” by political rivals over the future of education funding in the borough.

The Tory MP has responded to points made by Liberal Democrat Lord Tony Greaves in last week’s Leader Time Newspapers in which the peer claimed that over £5.5m. could be wiped out of the current schools budget under a proposed new funding formula.

Mr Stephenson said that Pendle schools would actually benefit by £600,000 under proposals which are being consulted on until next month.

He said: “The claims made by Lord Greaves were misleading, wildly inaccurate scaremongering. Quite frankly, they were disgusting and disgraceful. The figures are available online for all to see.

“The new formula will take into account factors such as deprivation, sparsity of population, historical funding and other matters.

“The current formula is outdated. This is an effort to see a national funding formula across the board.”

Lord Greaves, a former teacher in Colne, was referring to analysis of Government figures by the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which claimed that Pendle schools would lose £5.7m. in real terms by 2020.

Mr Stephenson met with Nick Gibb MP, the education minister responsible for school funding, who confirmed Pendle’s increase in funding.

He added: “I find it very regrettable that Lord Greaves continues to talk down our area and undermine the hard work of headteachers, teachers and governors who are working tirelessly to improve our schools.”

Meanwhile, Lord Greaves and his Lib Dem colleagues will continue to press their case and the group on the council has tabled a motion for debate at the Pendle Council Meeting on February 23rd.

Lord Greaves said: “The motion expresses its alarm at the effect these budget cuts are likely to have on the education of Pendle children.

“It calls on the Government to withdraw these proposals immediately, and to reconsider its approach to funding schools so as to maintain overall real terms funding per pupil, to make a new funding formula fair to all schools, and to ensure that all school budgets are protected from real terms cuts during the rest of this Parliament up to 2020.”