Philip Hammond keeps digging with defence of his ‘nice’ school extras
Has he never heard of Denis Healey's Law of Holes?
Philip Hammond will be pleased that his Budget landed well with Britain’s two biggest-selling papers.
The Mail reckons that yesterday was “the day Eeyore transformed himself into Feelgood Phil”. The Sun got more carried away, mocking up Hammond as a superhero and dubbing him “Mr Increditable” after delivering “the biggest giveaway by any chancellor in a generation”.
School leaders have been less impressed with Hammond’s pledge of a derisory £400 million to help them buy "the little extras they need".
The chancellor’s reference to "little extras" for schools prompted anger and ridicule on Twitter. Labour MP Lucy Powell said Hammond was being “patronising” and the NAHT headteachers' union said the announcement would "infuriate school leaders", adding that the Budget had "more money proposed for potholes than for pupils".
Speaking on his traditional media round this morning, Hammond insisted that next year's spending review will decide the overall education budget for future years.
And he insisted that he was just being “nice” to schools.
The chancellor told Good Morning Britain: "What I did yesterday was used some of the lower borrowing this year, where we’ve actually saved a bit of money this year, I just thought it would be a nice gesture to give some of it back. A small amount to each school in the country for headteachers to spend as they see fit, perhaps buying a piece of equipment or kit that the school needs, perhaps carrying out a piece of maintenance work that needs doing, I just thought that would be a nice gesture.”
Speaking to the BBC, Hammond added: "What it shows is that I had some money available in year and I thought a nice way of using it would be to give every school a grant which it can use for the priorities of that individual school, whether that be buying some computers, perhaps a whiteboard, in the case of a secondary school perhaps even a minibus, something like that."
In the 1980s Labour’s Denis Healey was keen on a so-called Law of Holes. “When in a hole, stop digging,” he advised.
On Twitter, hacks and Labour MPs suggested that the chancellor should take note…