BSF’s future is still uncertain

The future of the Building Schools for the Future programme still hangs in the balance after the government refuses comment on the programme’s review.

The Department for Education has been beavering away making cuts across the sector, in a bid to contribute £670m of savings towards the £6.2bn of savings proposed by the new government. However no decision has been made regarding BSF despite the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, being questioned on it in the House of Commons.

Michael Gove was asked what plans he had for BSF on Monday June 7, with Bill Esterson (Labour MP for Sefton Central) asking: “Does the Secretary of State agree that it would also damage the recovery by taking much-needed work away from construction workers and small businesses?”

In his reply, Michael Gove said that he wanted to “do everything possible to ensure that we obtain better value for money from this programme”.

“Under the last government a significant amount of the cash that was devoted to Building Schools for the Future was spent on consultancy and other costs, which did not contribute directly to raising standards or to employing a single builder or plasterer,” he said.

Alex Cunningham (Labour MP for Stockton North) said: “Some £5 million has been invested by Stockton borough council and partners, and they are hurtling towards appointing a preferred bidder. Will the Secretary of State please assure the people of my constituency, who have not had a new secondary school for 40 years, that children in our area can still look forward to their new and redeveloped schools?”

Michael Gove replied that he intends “to ensure in future that the costs faced either by Stockton or by any other local authority are reduced to the absolute minimum, so that we can prioritise front-line funding”.

When asked for a date when MPs will learn about the programme’s future, Michael Gove said: “I hope to have the opportunity very soon to explain to the hon. Gentleman and others exactly when the review I am conducting is being concluded.”