Music Education

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons am 6:15 pm ar 19 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis Ceidwadwyr, Northampton North 6:15, 19 Mawrth 2024

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. He is right that West Yorkshire and counties up and down the country are affected in that way. I am pleased that he is here and in agreement.

This further disruption is demoralising for the workforce. That is the effect of what Peter Smalley and the other heads of hubs have had to do, because it carries the inherent risk of a talent drain and recruitment crisis. NMPAT is also undertaking a full internal financial review to establish where cuts and savings can be made. It is inevitable that some services currently being delivered will be lost, and that costs for parents and schools will rise, perhaps by as much as 20%.

It has become clear that this is a worrying time not just for NMPAT, but for music education hubs up and down the country. I am concerned not just for the hubs that are having to make difficult decisions, but for organisations that perhaps might not be fully aware of the details of the changes that are about to occur. Music hubs making cuts to their budget, which reduces services and outreach, is a situation that we should not allow to occur because of the important impact that music education has.

The Minister’s predecessor, my right hon. Friend Nick Gibb, said:

“I believe all children, regardless of their backgrounds, should have the same opportunities and that’s why it’s so good to see that our music hubs are reaching so many.”

However, these changes are placing the viability of music hubs under threat. As a hugely successful music hub lead, NMPAT should be looking to expand the number of children it interacts with every year, not facing the unpalatable decision to make cuts to its services. I am aware that the Department for Education has confirmed that there will be some funding to cover the employer pension contribution, and that a formula to agree allocations is being worked on. When the Minister replies in a moment, would he be able to provide more detail on that formula and on whether NMPAT can expect a grant to cover those costs?

It also strikes me that the savings made by this cost-cutting measure will be rather small. According to Music Mark, the cut to the teachers’ pension scheme allowance will save His Majesty’s Government only around £1.2 million, which the House may think is a modest sum in the grand scheme of things. Furthermore, I am told it has been estimated that treating music teachers in independent music hub lead organisations equitably with schoolteachers by providing a grant for their pension schemes would cost only around £2 million annually. Is the cost of the effects of this policy change on NMPAT and other music education hubs around the country worth those relatively modest savings?