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Labour criticises government over schools repair backlog

16/04/2013 Joanna
Increasing numbers of people in education jobs are working in school buildings in growing need of repair, according to new figures published by the Labour party.

Labour submitted a freedom of information request to local authorities regarding the estimated cost of the repair to their schools, to which 89 councils - 59 per cent of the total asked - responded.

The councils reported that it would cost them £3.61 billion collectively to carry out required work on their schools, with Labour stating that the figure would be even larger across all local authorities.

It said these costs dwarfed the coalition government's 2013/14 allocation of £595 million of capital funding to local authorities to support the needs of schools and Sure Start children's centres that they are responsible for maintaining.

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg remarked that prime minister David Cameron has reduced funding for school buildings by 60 per cent, which is twice the Whitehall average cut to capital spending.

He asserted: "Too many pupils are having lessons in classrooms that are crumbling, overcrowded or with leaky roofs.

"David Cameron and [education secretary] Michael Gove are letting pupils and parents down - they must get a grip."

Mr Twigg also claimed that a Labour government would bring forward capital spending on schools, in a move that he said would benefit children and also provide a boost to the construction industry.

However, a Department for Education spokesman rejected Labour's criticisms, countering that the government was spending £16 billion on improving existing schools and building new ones, of which £6 billion has been set aside for maintenance.

The spokesman added that the government was undertaking a condition survey of 24,000 schools in order to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent where it is required most.

It was reported in March that projects to rebuild some of the country's worst school buildings were being held up by difficulties in securing private funding, with the government now considering turning to capital bond markets and the European Investment Bank to fund these schemes.

Posted by Theo FouldsADNFCR-2164-ID-801572187-ADNFCR
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