To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many schools (a) submitted requests for and (b) have been granted funding because of significant asbestos problems under the second phase of the Priority Schools Building Programme.
The aim of the second phase of the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP2) is to undertake rebuilding and refurbishment projects in schools with buildings in the very worst condition. PSBP2 is not an asbestos removal programme as, in most cases, the presence of asbestos can be safely managed with minimal investment. However, the Department for Education announced when the programme was launched that it would consider some situations where the presence of asbestos means the annual costs of safely managing it are excessive.
A total of 1299 schools submitted an expression of interest (EOI) for the second phase of the Priority School Building Programme. 307 schools indicated in their EOI that they had significant asbestos issues and provided relevant supporting documentation. These cases were assessed by independent technical advisers. This assessment considered whether the issues meant areas were already or likely to become inaccessible, whether the issues were classified as high risk or whether the presence of asbestos impacts on the operation or the maintenance of the school.
Eight schools met these criteria and in these cases the cost of removing or encapsulating asbestos was included in the calculation of the school’s condition need. Of these, six had sufficiently poor overall condition need to be included in the programme. Further information on the methodology used to prioritise schools for inclusion in PSBP2 is published online at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/401689/PSBP2_Methodology.pdf
In all blocks where the condition need will be addressed, all asbestos will be dealt with appropriately, whether raised as a specific concern or not.
PSBP2 is intended to sit alongside - and not to replace or substitute - the responsibility that local authorities, governing bodies, trustees, dioceses and other bodies have for the maintenance of school buildings in their care. Given that PSBP2 is a six year programme (running between 2015 and 2021), it is essential that schools continue to address any concerns with regards to asbestos in an appropriate timescale and do not rely on PSBP2 to address immediate needs. All applicants have been made aware of this requirement.
Alongside announcing the schools to be included in PSBP2, the Government also announced school condition allocations for the next three years. We have reformed these allocations so that they reflect the condition of school buildings; this means that those schools in poor condition who missed out on PSBP2 can be confident that their needs will instead be reflected in the funding we make available to their local authority, trust or voluntary aided partnership for improving the condition of their schools.