Jeremy Corbyn to use keynote speech to demand investment in education

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Jeremy Corbyn is calling on the Government to halt cuts to education and end decades of under-investment which has led to a "productivity crisis" in the UK economy.

In a keynote speech, the Labour leader will say the education system is in a "perilous state" while the prospect of a "bad" Brexit deal threatens to exacerbate existing weaknesses in the economy.

Addressing the Association of Colleges in Birmingham, he will urge Chancellor Philip Hammond to use the Budget on November 22 to announce new investment in infrastructure, technology and training.

With the Office for Budget Responsibility expected to downgrade its forecasts for economic growth due to continuing poor productivity, Mr Corbyn will say ministers can no longer ignore the scale of the crisis.

"To get a measure of the extent of this crisis, consider the fact that in mid-2017 productivity levels were lower than they were a decade ago, despite the huge technological advance of the last ten years," he will say.

"It's a truly astonishing statistic which underlines the damaging failure of austerity.

"With increased automation in the workplace, we need to be offering more opportunities than ever before for people to take on the jobs of the future.

"In the 21st century the economies that succeed are those that invest, most of all in people."

Chancellor Philip Hammond. (PA)
Chancellor Philip Hammond. (PA)

The Labour leader will say Mr Hammond needs to re-set Government policy to protect the economy from the possible fall-out from Brexit.

"A bad Brexit deal risks making existing weaknesses in our economy - low investment, low productivity and low pay - even worse," he will say.

"Brexit should instead give us the impetus to tackle our productivity crisis, which is making our country poorer.

"The answer lies in investment: in infrastructure, new technologies and people. But instead, the Government has cut the schools budget, cut college funding and saddled students with a lifetime of debt.

"Next week's Budget is an opportunity to break with that damaging record - and it must be taken."

Mr Corbyn will say that Brexit also risks adding to the problems facing the education system which has become heavily reliant on staff from the EU, with 5,000 teachers from EU countries qualifying to teach in the UK in 2016.

"It's no exaggeration to say that education is in a perilous state: funding has been cut year upon year, the attainment gap is widening and the curriculum has narrowed as courses have been cut," he will say.

"We are already suffering from a recruitment crisis in the teaching profession and that will only get worse if the Government fails to secure the rights of EU nationals currently living here."