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Fri February 26 2021

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School building programme moves onto £2bn phase two

2 May 14 The government has allocated £2bn for the second phase of the Priority School Building Programme, running from 2015 to 2021.

While the first phase was focused on building entire new schools, funding will now be available for targeting individual school buildings, as well as whole school rebuilds. The department fort education said that this was now possible because of a detailed condition survey that it had conducted.

Stephen Beechey, Wates Construction’s managing director education and investment sector, said this was ‘a positive step’.

He said: “Whilst ‘PSBP mark one’ understood the need to deliver efficiencies on cost and procurement time throughout the school building process, unfinished business still remained. Although 261 schools have been set to receive the benefits of priority funding, the wider issue of schools which either just missed out on the first tranche of funding, or needed significant repairs rather than a full rebuild, still needed to be urgently addressed.

“The DfE’s decision to expand its pool of funding for those schools most in need of repair and refurbishment is a positive step towards delivering on the recommendations contained in the 2011 James Review of Education Capital.”

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“More broadly, the cost of reactive maintenance jobs at schools is often significant, and is an issue that needed to be grasped firmly by the DfE in order to truly say that it is replenishing the nation’s school estate. With ‘PSBP 2’, potential contractors should now enjoy a level of certainty on procurement and pipeline that wasn’t previously available to them.

“For contractors, although greater clarity has been needed over work, the pipeline of available jobs has now expanded, hopefully allowing firms to co-ordinate their efforts and plan ahead that much more efficiently.”

Business lobby group Confederation for British Industry (CBI) hoped that it would mean smaller building firms would now get a slice of the pie. CBI director for business environment Nicola Walker said: “Businesses will welcome this additional funding which is a critical investment for schools, and will have a knock-on impact in generating growth in the construction sector. Funding has been limited, and the building programme has seen slow progress so far, so this renewed push is encouraging.

“It is important that the bidding process delivers value for money for the taxpayer, high-quality school buildings and opportunities for a wide range of firms, including many smaller companies, to win contracts.”

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