Ten trade associations representing different parts of the roofing and cladding industry have come together to write to the secretary of state for education, pressing him to release the 2020/21 Condition Improvement Fund ‘as a matter of urgency’.
Thousands of schools, colleges and academies pitch for a slice of the £400m fund each year and the results of this year’s round were expected in April. But schools are still waiting to hear the outcome of their applications.
The maintenance of school buildings is core work for many roofing contractors, as well as the manufacturers who supply the materials. The delayed announcement has created uncertainty about future workloads. The roofing industry wants the education secretary to announce the funding now, to provide time to set up for the start of the summer holidays and stimulate demand in the construction industry.
National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) chief executive James Talman said: “The government is looking for ‘shovel ready’ projects to help boost the construction industry, but they are missing a trick right under their nose – the delayed Condition Improvement Fund. This would provide a government stimulus of over £400m on thousands of school, college and academy repair and maintenance projects, yet we are still waiting to hear who has been successful, months later.”
He added: “At this time of year, roofing contractors would usually be preparing to work on schools and colleges over the summer holidays, but this year they have been left high and dry due to the delayed announcement. This couldn’t have come at a worse time, with construction industry output plummeting by 40% during lockdown and many roofers now wondering where their next job will come from. This decision impacts not only contractors but also on the wider supply chain, with many manufacturers uncertain of how much demand there will be later this year. In times of downturn, public sector investment should be a priority, not delayed.”
He concluded: “We are not asking for extra funding or even fast-tracking of funding, but simply for the announcement to be made, so our industry can get to work. We urge the secretary of state to give successful applications the green light as a matter of urgency, and by doing so, he may save many jobs in the process.”