Laura Sharman 01 February 2021

School closures could costs hundreds of billions in lost earnings, study predicts

School closures could costs hundreds of billions in lost earnings, study predicts image

The long-run cost of lost schooling could be as much as £350bn, a new study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned.

The research highlights that by February half-term, children will have lost at least six months of normal schooling. It predicts that in the long-run this will lead to lost earnings worth £350bn.

IFS warns children from lower-income families are likely to suffer the most from long-term effects, resulting in further educational inequality.

It is calling for a 'massive injection' of resources to help pupils properly catch up, as the £1.5bn already allocated won't be enough.

Luke Sibieta, research fellow at the IFS, said: 'A loss of over half a year of normal schooling is likely to have far-reaching long-run consequences. We will all be less productive, poorer, have less money to spend on public services, more unequal and we may be less happy and healthy as a result.

'Standard evidence on the returns to schooling would imply a total loss of £350bn, or £90bn under incredibly optimistic assumptions. The inescapable conclusion is that lost learning represents a gigantic long-term risk for future prosperity, the public finances, the future path of inequality and well-being.

'We therefore need a policy response that is appropriate to the scale of the problem. One useful benchmark is the £30bn it normally costs for half a year of schooling in the UK.'

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