Ed Balls says he hopes there will never be education cuts under Labour – but I have some rather bad news for him. His department has calculated the effects of Gordon Brown’s plans to suck forward spending pre-election, and helpfully published the results in a pdf file (here
). It says that spending per pupil peaks this year at £6,110. It starts to fall next year, by £50 a head – a small cut, but a cut nonetheless. The Brown strategy was to spend pre-election as much as he could: it stands to reason that cuts will follow. So it is time, too, for Balls to come clean. He should stop pretending there will be no school cuts, and accept the only question is how deep these cuts should be.
Now, Balls may spin that these aren't spending cuts but simply the unwinding of spending being brought forward. Yet this is what debt does: robs from tomorrow, to pay for today. You can argue that the last nine years have been ‘bringing spending forward’ – the last time Brown balanced his budget was 2000/01. The cuts after the election will be needed because of Brown’s spending and his debt. And, though Balls may hate to admit it, those cuts will start hitting schools as of the next financial year.