From education to employment

Funding to fix crumbling schools faces £900m cut next year

piggy bank with money

Government funding to fix crumbling school buildings faces a £900m cut next year, despite some classrooms having roofs at risk of collapse, figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

As part of his local elections tour Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey will today visit Tiverton High School in Devon, which is still facing delays to its new buildings despite years of promises from the Conservative government. The Liberal Democrats are calling for urgent extra funding to fix crumbling schools and ensure children are taught in safe buildings and decent conditions.

Liberal Democrat analysis of figures buried in the Spring Budget show that capital spending for the Department for Education will fall from £7 billion in 2023-24 to £6.1 billion in 2024-25. That amounts to a real-terms cut of 14.2% or £900 million. Specific funding for school building maintenance, announced by the Government earlier this week, will increase by just 0.7% since 2021-22: a real-terms cut of more than £125 million.

The figures come as a recent investigation by ITV News found thousands of children are being taught in schools with roofs made of a concrete material at risk of collapse. Separate figures unearthed by the Liberal Democrats have revealed 39 schools in England have had to temporarily or permanently close since December 2019 because their buildings were unsafe.

Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

“Parents are rightly furious that children are being taught in crumbling classrooms, some of which even have roofs at risk of collapse.

“It beggars belief that this Conservative government has not only spent years failing to address this issue but is now slashing funding to repair school buildings.

“Communities around the country are fed up with years of neglect under a Conservative Party that is taking them for granted.

“Liberal Democrats are demanding urgent investment to fix crumbling schools, so every child can be taught in a safe and decent environment. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats in May is a vote for a strong local champion who will fight for a fair deal and strong public services people can rely on.”

1. Full analysis of the cut to DfE capital funding in Spring Budget 2023 can be found here.

2. The £1,803 million investment in school buildings announced by the Government on 28 March for 2023-24 relates to three funds: the School Condition Allocations (SCA), the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) and Devolved Formula Capital (DFC). These are paid to schools, academy trusts and councils. They cover a mix of routine school maintenance and other capital projects for existing schools. They are separate from the funding allocated to increase the number of school places. According to the Department for Education’s own figures (source), this is an increase of just 0.7% (£13 million) on what the Government spent on SCA, CIF and DFC in 2021-22 (£1,701 million). Applying the GDP deflator (source) to these figures shows that this amounts to a real-terms cut of 7% (£126 million) between 2021-22 and 2023-24.

3. At least 39 state-funded schools in England have closed all or part of the school site since December 2019 because it was unsafe for pupils, The figures were revealed by the Department for Education in response to a parliamentary question tabled by the Liberal Democrats’ education spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP.

4. A recent ITV News investigation found that at least 68 schools contain reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), a building material likened to an Aero chocolate bar that officials describe as “life-expired and liable to collapse.” The Freedom of Information requests also revealed that 1,466 schools built between the 1960s and the 1980s do not know if they contain RAAC because they have not been checked.

Related Articles