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The Department for Education (DfE) proposes a total Resource Departmental Expenditure Limit of £72.1 billion (excluding student loans) in 2020-21. The DfE’s day to day spending within this limit is set to increase by £3.9 billion or 6.2%, from £63.4 billion last year to £67.3 billion.

The DfE’s Capital Departmental Expenditure Limit covering investment is set to decrease from £4.9 billion to £4.3 billion, a reduction of £0.6 billion or 11.9%, compared to last year.

The amounts sought does not, as yet, include any additional funding for new commitments made since the Main Estimate was published, such as free school meals during the summer holidays, the £1 billion catch up tutoring and support fund announced on 19 June, and the new school rebuilding plan. If, as seems likely, these require additional funding, rather than simply reallocations of existing plans, resources will be added through a Supplementary Estimate, published towards the end of the financial year.

The Government has recently begun a phased reopening of schools after they have been closed to the vast majority of pupils since 23 March due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Schools have remained open to children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils (those with an Education Health and Care plan, or a social worker, or are looked after by the local authority). However, the low attendance rate of vulnerable pupils and survey evidence of unequal home learning environments have raised concerns of the risk that the attainment gap might widen.

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