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Election manifestos 2017 – the education discussion
As polling day nears, ‘school funding’ and the future of Britain’s education system remain a focal point of the election battleground. The release of the manifestos in early May saw a number of the rumoured pledges come into being with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, in particular, placing education at the forefront. So what policy choices are we being presented with? Labour was the first to publish its manifesto (although perhaps prompted by its leaking), “prioritising education as it deserves” and promising to: Bring forward its pledge to scrap tuition fees, including students enrolled from autumn 2017 and students part-way through their courses. Re-introduce maintenance grants to cover living costs (to be paid for by increasing corporation tax and income tax for those earning £80,000 or more). Introduce a National Education Service (NES) to provide “cradle-to-grave” learning that is free at the point of use. Reduce class sizes to less than 30 pupils for all 5, 6 and 7 year olds. Provide free school meals for all primary school children (paid for by removing the VAT exemption on private school fees). Prevent schools from becoming academies and ‘free schools’. Ensure schools have sufficient resources for them to invest in new school buildings (including the removal of asbestos from existing schools). Labour is seeking to provide changes at both primary and higher education levels. In terms of university fees, the pledge resembles that made by the Liberal Democrats in 2010 which was never implemented following the coalition with the Conservatives. Labour is determined to demonstrate its commitment to abolishing tuition fees and propose a £9.5 billion annual bill to take account of this and the anticipated rise in fees in the autumn[1]. Further to this, Labour wants to reverse the funding cuts that have affected further education (FE) colleges and proposes to introduce free, lifelong FE colleges through the provision of new technical colleges[2]. The Liberal Democrat Party, alongside pledging a second EU referendum, is also prioritising education and proposes to: Invest £7 billion in children’s education so that no school loses funding per pupil. Extend free school meals to all children of primary school age. Triple funding for the ‘early years pupil premium’, boosting it to £1,000 per pupil per year. Raise the quality of early years education by ensuring that by 2022, each facility has a qualified ‘early years’ teacher. Oppose new grammar schools. Give local authorities ‘proper democratic control’ over admissions and new schools. Devolve all monies to local authorities to ensure that new schools are built in areas where there is demand. Reinstate maintenance grants. In substantiating its pledges, the Lib Dems confirm that proposals have derived from a fully costed programme and similar to Labour, this would be delivered through an NES. The Institute of Fiscal Studies has been quick to comment in light of both these manifestos, stating that maintaining education funding at current levels would mean raising spending by £3.7 billion and that a promise to protect schools from cuts would not be cheap[3]. UKIP is seeking to promote an accessible education system for all children and in delivering this, proposes to: Amend planning legislation to ensure more nurseries are built to expand childcare places. Bring back grammar schools and support a range of secondary schools including vocational, technical and specialist schools. Waive tuition fees for science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) subjects at university. Give local people the final say on major planning developments in their area. Clearly, this final point would need to be carefully implemented to ensure that it does not affect the delivery of 1 and 2. The Conservative Party has used its manifesto as an opportunity to affirm its ‘achievements’ to date and argue that education spending has been at record levels during its term of office. Going forward the Party intends to: Scrap free school lunches for infants in England, to instead offer free breakfasts for all children at primary school level. Pump an extra £4 billion a year into schools by 2022. Introduce new funding arrangements to open specialist mathematics schools in all major cities. Scrap the ban on setting up new grammar schools. Involve universities which charge maximum tuition fees and independent schools in the sponsorship and founding of academies and ‘free schools’. Similar to the Lib Dems, the Conservatives do not propose any significant regulatory changes at university level and the primary focus is on improving the system available to ‘school children’. The Party has estimated that savings of £650 million would be made as a result of scrapping school dinners and that this would be recycled into school budgets. However, the Education Data Lab has commented that the provision of ‘free breakfasts’ alone could cost more than treble the £60m allocated by the Conservatives on the basis that the Party only assumes a 25% take-up and projected costs of 25p per child per day[4]. As we can see, the parties have been quick to provide voters with ‘incentives’ and in turn have had no difficulty in broadcasting the flaws and false promises of their opponents. However the debate is seen, a new approach is required. The RIBA has confirmed in its own manifesto that the UK will need to provide an additional 420,000 new school places by 2021 and that future provision will need to recognise the role of ‘good school design’ in securing the best outcomes[5].  The devolution of monies and control to local authorities put forward by the Liberal Democrats and the investment into facilities proposed by both Labour and the Conservatives, could, therefore, provide significant opportunities and introduce interesting changes to the delivery of Britain’s educational provision. We just have to wait for 8 June before we can speculate further and consider what this will mean for the planning and development industry. In the meantime, should you wish to discuss further or learn more about our work in the education sector, please get in touch with a member of our Education Team.   Sources [1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39994886 [2] http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017/towards-a-national-education-service [3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39795185 [4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-40032282 [5] RIBA (2017) Manifesto 2017: Building Global Britain. RIBA, London.  

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Welsh Government Brexit projections

Welsh Government Brexit projections

Simon Coop 19 Apr 2017
With the stroke of the prime minister's pen at the bottom of a letter to the President of the European Council, Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty was formally enacted and the curve of British history was changed forever. In spite of all of the discussion of what lies ahead, very little is known for sure: when the terms of negotiation are up for negotiation, certainty remains thin on the ground. Given its relative economic position, and reliance upon £680m of EU funding each year, the potential impact of Brexit upon Wales may be even more significant than upon the rest of the UK. Many questions are being asked about what will happen, with a common theme relating to the impact upon housing need. It has been said many times since June that national sovereignty and migration were central to the outcome of the referendum. The follow-on argument is that a reduction in migration will result in a need for fewer new homes to be built. The recent release of a new set of Welsh Government household projections provides a timely opportunity to revisit the merits of this argument. Through a careful consideration of this data, and the population projections that underpin it, some conclusions can be drawn. The main focus of the discussion about the impact of Brexit upon population growth and housing need appears to have focused upon in-migration. The assumption being that greater controls on in-migration will result in a reduction in the number of people that move into this country, resulting in a consequential reduction in housing need. This perspective entirely overlooks out-migration. In order to fully understand the impact of Brexit upon population change in the UK, we must therefore focus on net migration (the difference between the number of people moving in from overseas and the number leaving the UK). The 2014-based Welsh Government projections anticipate that net international migration will amount to 3,315 people each year (14,100 in, 10,800 out). This is 28% lower than the net international migration level projected by the 2011-based population projections, a significant change that is likely to have been influenced by a number of issues, including changing international migration patterns during the recession (which affected Wales slightly later than the rest of the UK). The split between EU and non-EU international migration is 49:51, so on this basis, the EU component would represent a net in-flow of 1,690 people per year. This equates to just 1% of net EU migration into the UK. Given that net migration to Wales from the EU is already projected to be very low compared to past projections and as a proportion of net EU migration to the UK, the scale (and impact) of any further change may well be limited. As explained below, this is particularly the case given the expected reduction in out-migration to the EU. As one would expect, the picture across Wales varies markedly with Cardiff, Swansea, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wrexham and Gwynedd expected to account for 87% of net international migration to Wales (2,970 people). By contrast, seven authorities (Conwy, Denbighshire, Powys Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire, Vale of Glamorgan and Caerphilly) are projected to have net international out-migration of 380 persons per annum. Not only will any potential effect of Brexit upon net migration and overall population levels vary between different local authorities, the projections already anticipate a very different spatial distribution of international migration. This would have already informed the household projections and will continue to do so. Whilst the larger urban centres attract more net migration and are expected to see the highest level of household growth, there is not a direct correlation between the level of expected household growth in each local authority in Wales and the expected level of net migration. This is demonstrated by the fact that, with the exception of Powys, all local authorities in Wales are expected to experience household growth between 2014 and 2039, including those that are projected to have net out international migration. International migration is – and will remain – just one factor that impacts upon household change, alongside domestic migration, natural change, demographic profile and household formation rates are more significant in shaping household change in Wales. The issue of demographic structure is also relevant when one considers the potential impact of Brexit upon out-migration. If greater controls are to be placed upon EU citizens moving into the UK, there might also be a similar increase in barriers to British citizens moving abroad. It is estimated that between ¼ and 1/3 of British migrants living in other EU counties are retired and there is no reason to believe that the proportion of people migrating from Wales for retirement purposes is any different to the national average. In addition to potential imposition of entry requirements (potentially relating to economic activity and employment), future restrictions in access to healthcare and pension payments might also deter people retiring in Europe. The latest population projections show that, compared to a 5.1% increase in total population, the number of people aged 65 and over in Wales is expected to increase by over 42% between 2014 and 2039. If the future level of out-migration was to fall then the number of older people living in Wales would be expected to increase. The latest household projections show that older people tend to live in smaller households (commonly single person households or as couples) whilst younger people live in larger households. Immigration from the EU will continue, just as it does from the rest of the world and the biggest controls are likely to be placed upon younger people that might not have a job to go to. The projections show that. The effect of this might therefore be to exacerbate the existing trend towards an ageing population. The result of fewer people living in larger households but more people living in smaller households will clearly not be a justification for a reduction in housing need. An increase in the number of older people will equate to a need for more homes. Arguments that we will need fewer homes are misguided. In the absence of any robust evidence to the contrary, we should continue with what we have and rely upon the latest Welsh Government household projections as the starting point of our determination of future housing need.

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