Skip to main content

Schools: Capital Investment

Volume 715: debated on Monday 30 November 2009

Statement

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (Ed Balls) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Local authorities and their representative organisations have been in discussion with us for a number of months over how best to respond to unexpected increases in demand for pupil places in primary schools.

There has been a sustained increase in the birth rate nationally since 2001, which is now feeding through to primary schools. The Government have already made available funding to deal with projected pupil growth through allocations made to local authorities for the period 2008-09 to 2010-11.

Local authorities, generally, have good systems in place to plan for increasing demand for pupil places. However, local authorities have told us that pupil numbers are higher than expected in some areas as a result of a combination of localised factors: changes in the housing market in the current economic climate, and also increased demand in the state sector due to better local schools and in some cases less demand for independent places. As a result it has been particularly difficult for some authorities accurately to forecast demand and plan to provide the places needed for reception-age pupils over the next few years. I commend the efforts that have been made to provide a place for every child this September.

In July I announced that I would make available £200 million of capital to support the neediest authorities provide additional places by 2011, and invited applications. Since July there have been extensive discussions with individual authorities and with representative bodies including the Local Government Association, London councils, and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, on how best to allocate this funding.

As a result of these discussions we have revised the eligibility criteria and methodology for additional funding. Authorities that did not originally apply will have the opportunity to discuss with my department whether they are eligible for funding under the revised criteria.

I have also decided to increase the funding we are allocating to primary capital places to £300 million. Thirty-four authorities that have applied will receive additional funding, the details of which are shown in the table below. The funding announced today will create an estimated additional 15,000 new primary places. Successful local authorities will be expected to build the extra permanent places by September 2011 and money may be held back from future capital funding allocations where actual pupil numbers fall short of predictions.

I believe it is right to give additional funding, on top of record capital investment, to build extra classrooms and facilities in areas facing sudden increases in demand which could not reasonably have been forecast. Housing children in mobile or hired classrooms is only a temporary solution—so it is vital that local authorities facing the greatest pressure on their capital budgets address these issues urgently using the funding I am now making available and in the longer-term through the Primary Capital Programme.

In the medium and longer terms, funding school places, and in particular responding to the increase in demand for primary school places, will be a priority from 2011, so that there is a good permanent place for every child where it is wanted. Partnerships for Schools, which since October has had responsibility for the delivery of schools capital programmes, is setting up a working group which will include representative bodies, to consider how best to allocate and target funding to ensure that this happens.

I am also today announcing the 11 local authorities which will be joining the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme for the first time. BSF is the most ambitious public building programme for decades, revamping the entire secondary school estate. The authorities joining today are Brent, Darlington, Devon, Havering, Kingston, Croydon, Norfolk, Plymouth, Sefton, Wakefield, and Warrington. Another two—Lancashire and Tameside—will be starting the next phases of their BSF schemes. Planning and building on these schemes will begin between January and March 2010. These additions bring the total number of local authorities in England which are active in BSF to 96.

The BSF projects announced today will join more than 1,000 individual rebuilding or renewal BSF projects already under way. Momentum has built quickly this year. One hundred and twenty-nine schools which have benefited from BSF investment are now open—more than double the number open in December 2008.

Primary Capital Allocations

Barking and Dagenham

18,388,000

Barnet

1,000,000

Birmingham

24,319,000

Blackpool

6,060,000

Bolton

3,320,000

Bournemouth

6,011,000

Bradford

11,009,000

Brent

14,766,000

Brighton and Hove

5,700,000

Camden

1,000,000

Coventry

7,427,000

Croydon

12,834,000

Ealing

4,006,000

Enfield

6,941,000

Haringey

8,570,000

Kingston upon Thames

8,185,000

Lambeth

9,002,000

Leeds

1,762,000

Luton

15,504,000

Manchester

6,808,000

Newham

17,464,000

North Somerset

1,000,000

Peterborough

5,257,000

Redbridge

3,460,000

Richmond

3,327,000

Sheffield

13,778,000

Slough

8,986,000

Southampton

1,000,000

Southwark

12,063,000

Swindon

6,374,000

Thurrock

2,563,000

Trafford

1,000,000

Waltham Forest

4,234,000

Wandsworth

17,902,000