To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the Answer of 18 September 2023 to question 199083, and with reference to the budgets used to fund emergency mitigation works for schools with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, whether that money would have been used for other Department capital projects; and if he will publish details of what those capital projects would have been.
It is the responsibility of those who run schools - academy trusts, Local Authorities and voluntary aided school bodies - to manage the safety and maintenance of their schools and to alert the Department if there is a serious concern with a building. It has always been the case that where the Department is made aware of a building that may pose an immediate risk, immediate action is taken.
The Department will spend whatever it takes to keep children safe. It will fund emergency mitigation work needed to make buildings safe, including installing alternative classroom space where necessary. Where schools and colleges need additional help with revenue costs, the Department expects all reasonable requests will be approved. The Department will then also fund refurbishment projects, or rebuilding projects, to rectify the RAAC issue for the long term. The Department will set out further details for affected schools and colleges in due course.
The Department will work with the relevant responsible body, which will depend on the type of school or college with confirmed RAAC. Every case will be different, and the Department is working closely with affected schools and colleges to understand and support their needs, including with capital funding.
The Department’s immediate support will be managed from unallocated departmental budgets. This will not impact existing programmes.
The Department will always put the safety and wellbeing of children and staff in education settings at the heart of its policy decisions. The Government has taken more proactive action to identify and mitigate RAAC in education settings than the devolved administrations in the UK, or indeed, governments overseas.