28 February 2007

Liberal Democrats in Cornwall, as represented by an item on Matthew Taylor’s website, have complained that the per pupil dedicated schools grant (DSG) for 2007/08 for Cornwall is about £300 less than the average for England. Yes it is, this is true.

What the Liberal Democrats do not say is that the per pupil funding is below the average for England in eighty seven England education authorities, including Cornwall.

And what they do not say is that fourteen of those eighty seven education authorities in England have per pupil funding below the Cornwall figure.

See for yourself at this official site.

Of course MPs and local parties should speak up robustly for their area but I think it is wrong not to put the Cornwall figure in context, that is, wrong not to mention the eighty seven authorities and those fourteen. Anyone reading the Liberal Democrat comments might well mistakenly think that Cornwall was being uniquely singled out for unfair treatment in DSG education funding. The uncontexted comments will feed the nationalist victim agenda.

What the Liberal Democrats do not say either is where the money should come from to give Cornwall more (and the other below-average authorities?). They should name the authorities or services it should be taken off; or give us the location of the Liberal Democrat money tree.

As part of the Liberal Democrat education complaint, there is a comment that Islington gets more per pupil than Cornwall. Yes it does, this is true.

Islington is mentioned because of its connection with Tony Blair.

Can the difference be justified? The figures for free school meals are a handy indication of poverty. In Cornwall 11.1 percent of primary pupils and 9.8 percent of secondary pupils are eligible for free school meals; in Islington the figures are 42.8 percent and 43.0 percent (January 2005). In the county/boroughs index of multiple deprivation for 2004, the latest available, Islington is the 4th most deprived in England, Cornwall and Scilly is the 61st most deprived (rank of average ranks). That’s why the blanket funding is different and that’s what the MPs should point out.

I thought the Liberal Democrat party supported proportionate help for the poor but apparently not.