George Osborne told the Today programme this morning that “the first rule of politics is that you have to learn to count.”

Well, Scrapbook’s done the sums on his latest bid for political rehabilitation and something doesn’t add up.

Osborne was on the programme to plug a report by the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, of which is he is chair, about the gap in educational attainment between poor kids in the north and south of England.

It calls for the Government to spend an extra £300 million on early years education to ensure “every child is school ready by age five”.

But a report published by the Government in December found that Osborne slashed national spending on that very area by £650 million.

That led to a 1,240 Sure Start centres being shut on Osborne’s watch – a third of the number the Tories inherited from Labour in 2010.

The hardest hit area? You guessed it – the north east, where over 40% of Sure Start centres shut.

A further analysis showed what happened to spending on early years education in the north of England between 2010/11 and 2016/17:

  • Yorkshire and the Humber: Down 56.3% from £173.7 million to £76.0 million

  • North West: Down 52.8% from £228.9 million to £108.0 million 

  • North East: Down 50.9% from £81.9 million to £40.2 million

In total, spending on early years education in the north of England was cut by more than £260 million as a direct result of Osborne’s decisions.

So the £300 million investment he’s asking for would simply begin to undo the harm he caused.

The problem, not the solution…

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