Ministers are considering cutting back plans to build hundreds of new free schools in an attempt to plug a gap in the education budget, it has been reported.
The government is struggling to meet a Conservative manifesto pledge to increase education budgets by £4 billion after being forced to abandon plans to scrap universal free school meals for infants, The Times reported.
One option said to be being looked at was scaling back – or dropping – plans for more free schools, which allow parents charities and other groups to set up state-funded schools free from local authority control.
The Conservative general election manifesto promised to build "at least a hundred" new free schools every year.
Abandoning or watering down the programme would be seen as another break with the legacy of David Cameron, who introduced free schools under the former coalition government.