Public Expenditure

HC 1201, Fifth Report of Session 2005-06

House of Commons Education and Skills Committee
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'Public Expenditure (HC 1201)' examines several areas of public expenditure on education. The Committee is concerned about changes to the DfES Annual Report. There are signs that the prime function to provide more and better information on expenditure to select committees is no longer the main motivation for the production of the document. The Department has altered chapter headings, layout and contents of the report between 2003 and 2005. The regularity of change makes it virtually impossible to follow the thread of policy and funding. The reports make no effort to explain why changes had been made. The Chancellor's declared aim to close the gap in per pupil funding between the private sector and the maintained sector, entailing a rise in per pupil funding from £5000 to £8000, is seen as an aspiration rather than a developed policy set against a timetable.

The Committee has also looked at the Department's £4.3 billion savings under the Gershon efficiency programme. It appears that no cash savings are actually to be made, but 75 per cent of the non-cashable gains will be recyclable (e.g. allowing more effective use of teachers' time). The Committee questions whether non-cashable gains should be presented in money terms, as it is rather misleading. The Committee regrets that the effectiveness of the Government's increased level of investment in education cannot be easily measured in terms of providing better education and more highly qualified students. The lack of a demonstrable link between inputs and outputs means the public cannot judge whether or not public resources are being well used. Finally, the report examines research funding in higher education.

Extent 104 pages Sub. No.
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