Schools: Asbestos

Department for Education written question – answered at on 13 February 2024.

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Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Shadow Minister (International Trade)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what estimate her Department has made of how many schools who have incurred a financial cost to manage asbestos on their premises in the last 12 months.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Minister of State (Education)

Safe and well-maintained school buildings are a priority for the department. The department has allocated over £15 billion to improve the condition of schools since 2015, including £1.8 billion this financial year. This funding is informed by consistent data on the condition of the estate.

The department expects responsible bodies, including local authorities, governing bodies and academy trusts, to have robust plans in place to manage any asbestos in school buildings effectively in line with their legal duties.

The department follows advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which states that, as long as asbestos is in good condition, not vulnerable to damage and carefully managed, it is usually safer to manage it in situ. The department is committed to working collaboratively with HSE, as the regulator, to support schools and duty holders.

The department has not made an assessment of how many schools have incurred a financial cost to manage asbestos. Asbestos is managed by responsible bodies and schools at a local level, including determining how management is funded. The department supports them by providing guidance on the safe management of asbestos and providing access to capital funding each year. Schools are either eligible for School Condition Allocation funding to prioritise improving the condition of their schools, or they are able to bid into the Condition Improvement Fund annual bidding round, to apply for funding for specific capital projects. All schools also receive funding to spend on their capital priorities or to contribute to larger projects through an annual Devolved Formula Capital allocation. Condition funding can be used to remove asbestos when required, often as part of a wider condition project.

Where responsible bodies have serious issues with buildings that cannot be managed locally, the department provides additional support on a case-by-case basis.

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