UK Politics

Jeremy Corbyn pledges extra arts cash for schools

Performers at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Corbyn said the arts enriches people and boosts the economy

All primary schools in England would get extra cash to fund arts activities under plans unveiled by Jeremy Corbyn at Edinburgh's Fringe Festival.

The arts "pupil premium" would be modelled on the existing top-up grants given to schools for PE and sport.

The Labour leader pledged to raise government spending on the arts in line with the European average and boost participation among low-income groups.

He also said councils should be obliged to provide a library service.

Speaking at world's largest arts festival in the Scottish capital, Mr Corbyn said that under his leadership Labour will draw on the country's "proud cultural heritage" and give people from all sections of society the opportunity for their "creativity to flourish".

Mr Corbyn, who is facing a challenge to his leadership from Owen Smith, is pledging to reverse in full cuts to UK government arts spending since 2010-11 as part of a "bold and inspiring" blueprint for the sector.

He said the £42.8m in cuts to central funding and grants to the Arts Councils of England and Wales and Creative Scotland will be made up for by scrapping the Conservatives' planned cuts to capital gains tax announced in March's Budget.

'Bold and inspiring'

Labour, he said, would use part of the £670m they believe will be freed up by scrapping the CGT cut to give additional funding for creative activities in schools in line with the existing pupil premium for sport and physical education.

At the moment, nearly all grant maintained primary schools, including free schools and academies, receive top-funding for PE and sport. Based on the number of pupils in years one to six, funding can range from £8,000 per school to £500 per pupil.

The arts pupil premium could be extended to secondary schools in future, the Labour leader will say, as part of his commitment to bring the UK into line with EU states, which spend an average of 0.5% of their GDP on the arts and culture.

In addition, he promised a moratorium on privatisation of museum services, greater devolution of cultural budgets to the English regions, a single national scheme for arts scholarships and a consultation on dance and drama within the national curriculum.

He pledged to work with users, staff, the unions and campaigners to give libraries a long-term sustainable future, enforcing in law a commitment for councils to offer a "comprehensive and efficient" service.

"Drawing on Britain's rich cultural heritage, Labour under my leadership will commit to extending access and participation in the arts to all people and all communities across Britain," he said.

"There is creativity in all of us but we need to give people the opportunities for this creativity to flourish."

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