Funding For Music Education Has Been Cut, Despite Government's Promise, Claims David Blunkett

The Government is undermining its pledge to give children more access to music education by cutting funding by £16 million, a former Cabinet minister claimed on Tuesday.

Labour MP David Blunkett said the Coalition has cut 12.5% of funding for music education in England in the past year, according to figures released by the Department for Education.

The Government will spend £111.6 million on music education in 2011/12, a drop from just over £127.5 million in 2010/11.

Blunkett, a former Education Secretary, said the number of government-funded places for training music teachers was cut by 43% from last year.

The number of places allocated for Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) courses in music was 315 in 2011/12, a drop from 555 from 2010/11.

The figures were obtained from Schools Minister Nick Gibb in response parliamentary questions from Mr Blunkett over the last two months.

Education secretary Michael Gove and minister for culture Ed Vaizey have said the Department for Education's national plan for music education "will ensure not just that more children have access to the greatest of art forms, but that they do better as a result in every other subject."

But Blunkett argued: "To claim more, whilst offering less, is dishonest and the kind of politics which reinforces cynicism amongst the public.

"We have spent years rebuilding access to music education for children of all backgrounds.

"Government cuts, coupled with the near demolition of the role of local government in music education, is reversing both the progress made and the equality of treatment which has been achieved.

"It would be at least honest if the Government were to come clean and admit that those substantial cutbacks will undermine the life chances of youngsters, not merely in accessing the wonderful creative opportunity and use of talent but also the spin-off effect of music teaching of attainment in other key subject areas.

"I hope that high profile figures in the music world from pop and classical will raise their voices in combating these cynical moves."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "We've actually protected overall £82.5 million core music funding this year - despite the challenging public finances.

"We've stopped funding for a succession of one-off projects and are putting long-term external funding in place to continue the very successful national Sing Up scheme.

"The truth is that historically only about 40% of music education investment has come from the Government, with the rest from other sources - so these figures don't really tell the full story.

"We've just published the first ever National Music Plan - it means every pupil will have the chance to learn a musical instrument for a term.

"The existing system is complex and totally inefficient - based on years-old, out-of-date information. Future investment will be based on the actual number of pupils in each area and targeted at the poorest areas."