Education chair Graham Lane said: 'Gillian Shephard is still insisting that there is no education finance crisis this year. She wrote to me out of the blue to say just that. I can only suppose that she thinks if she says something enough times it will miraculously be true.
'There is a world of difference between saying there is more money for education and real money going into the system. The total increase in grant for all authorities is a mere 1.2%. But 20 authorities with education responsibilities have actually had a cash reduction in their total grant: Not a penny for teachers' pay: Not a penny for inflation. Even less grant that they got in a year that everyone agrees was a crisis year for education finance.
'Inner London boroughs have been singled out for the most vicious treatment. Southwark for example has had a 5.2% cut in its total grant - that's a loss of around £12m. All Southwark's services are hard pressed. Does Mrs Shephard really believe Southwark should slash care in the community to find its missing education millions? Would her other Cabinet colleagues agree if she did?