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Gove announces £2BN funding to beleaguered schools construction

22 July 2011

Education Secretary Michael Gove threw the Education sector a lifebuoy last Tuesday by setting aside £2BN to procure construction works for schools following the governments cancellation of the £55BN Building Schools for the Future programme in last year's Comprehensive Spending Review.

Partnerships for Schools has published details of the Priority School Building Programme, which will be spending between £1BN-£3BN, with tendering starting in the first quarter of 2012, Construction News reported. It also noted that the tender document stating that the funding could cover between 100-300 schools. Construction costs are also to be grouped in 'bulk' deals- a move that will favour the bigger contractors.

Building magazine reported that Gove insisted that the government would be policing the programme to avoid the cost and time overruns associated with PFI. The programme will also be informed by a Treasury scheme to improve PFI procurement, involving savings of £1.5BN being negotiated from existing operational PFI deals.

PFI schools are also likely to be directly procured rather than going through frameworks, and will involve a lot more adoption of 'standardised' rather than bespoke design, Building understands. Councils have up to mid-October to apply for funding, with PfS managing the early stages of the process.

Gove also announced £500M of emergency funding to address the urgent need for extra school places, especially in primary schools.

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