What do you get if you subtract 1.4 billion pounds from 15 billion pounds?
The answer? The resignation of the man designated by the government as its education recovery czar, Kevan Collins.
He left the post this week after failing to persuade the Prime Minister, and perhaps more importantly the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the price to pay for helping the students reclaim the ground they had lost during the lockdown was much higher than they were willing to sign a check for.
Instead, it was left to hapless Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to try to cover up the line with funding announcements for tutoring students who fell behind during the pandemic.
Even that failed to allay concern, with the Education Policy Institute calculating that funding was actually only around £ 50 per child.
Sir Kevin has emphatically underscored the need for more investment in areas like the north of England, which is of course where the Tories are investing heavily to build support in these very important Red Wall constituencies that they snatched from Labor in the election.
Why is it so difficult for the Conservatives to fully understand that investing in children is a win-win situation?
“It was left to the hapless Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to try to cover up the argument”
Have you ever met a parent who wouldn’t agree to invest more money in schools? Who would be disappointed by a government ready to set up additional support or remedial courses?
Yet when faced with an assessment of the situation and a program to address the issue of learning loss from the man appointed for that purpose, the Prime Minister is not impressed.
And to put it mildly, he’s offering a tenth of the money that his own adviser says is needed to get kids to where they should be.
It was understandable that Sir Kevin felt like he had been slapped in the face with a cold fish and decided to retire from the job he had taken on just a few months ago.
Accepting a pledge of funding that was a fraction of what he thought was necessary, as well as that old political witchcraft of conjuring money down the line, was hardly an attractive proposition.
Meanwhile, Kent County Council is expected to outline its progress on its own stimulus package shortly, which it launched in March.
The “Reconnect” initiative aims to tackle many issues identified at the national level, such as loss of learning, but there has not been much information in the public domain to date.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been quite uncompromising in her attitude towards the use of the former Napier Barracks in Folkestone to house asylum seekers.
Even in the face of what was a fairly damning court ruling this week, the Home Office has sunk in and seems unlikely to pay much attention to the growing clamor to close the barracks and find accommodation elsewhere.
This hardball policy is deliberate: the government wants to avoid giving the impression that it is lenient towards those arriving in the UK to seek asylum.
A sleight of hand from the treasury scanners. A program is in place to ensure that advice is not disbursed regarding tax deficits related to people unable to pay their bills during the pandemic.
The pattern on the surface of things seems correct. That is until you get to the fine print, which reveals that councils will only be able to get back 75% of the money they missed out on through unpaid housing tax. In addition, the provisions provide that the municipalities spread the deficit over three years.
As a county council budget report put it: ‘Only sunk losses will be eligible for the additional grant, estimated at £ 10million of the £ 12.3million. The remainder of the estimated deficit will have to be borne by the municipality as well as the remaining 25% of the irrecoverable losses.
As they say, the terms and conditions apply.
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