Education Secretary halts 20-year, £55bn Building Schools for the Future programme
News comes today that the £55bn Building Schools for the Future programme will be abandoned in a continuation of the new coalition government’s wide-scale spending cuts. The 20-year initiative was designed to rebuild or advance every secondary school in the country; however Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that the scheme is to be cancelled in order to save money. He explained that the programme had been hit by ‘massive over-spends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy’.
706 new projects in the Building Schools for the Future programme have already had contracts signed and are therefore set to continue, but 715 more face disappointment today as they see a permanent halt to proceedings as the schools budget is cut by £1bn. Gove argued: “There are some councils which entered the process six years ago which have only just started building new schools. Another project starting this year is three years behind schedule. By contrast, Hong Kong international airport, which was built on a barren rock in the South China Sea and can process 50m passenger movements every year, took just six years to build.”
Ruth Reed, President of the RIBA, has slammed the decision, describing it as: “profoundly detrimental - not only to the construction industry that would be building the schools, and the architectural profession that would be designing them, but also the thousands of pupils who have benefitted from an enriched learning experience in a designed for purpose environment.” She continued: “As highlighted in today’s speech, the BSF programme was not without flaws. The RIBA has long argued that the process of procurement needed to be greatly improved in order to cut costs, save considerable time, and produce better designed buildings. The RIBA’s Smart Procurement method, which we have consistently urged the Government to utlise, essentially removes the duplication and waste in the process; using this method would allow the Government to deliver efficiently and to maximise investment.”