SCHOOL buildings are now being constructed for about a third less, saving the taxpayer millions of pounds, according to Ministers.
A total of 260 schools in the worst condition across England – including 36 in Yorkshire – are being refurbished or rebuilt through the Government’s £2.4 bn Priority School Building Programme (PSBP).
Under the scheme, building projects are costing about 35 per cent less than the previous scheme set up under Labour, the Department for Education (DfE) claimed.
It said that the average cost of rebuilding a secondary school through PSBP is about £15m, with each one saving around £5m of taxpayers’ money.
The time for building work to begin on a project has been cut from three years, on average under the old scheme, to around one year, the DfE added.
Official figures suggest the Government expects to see about a £7bn boost to the economy from PSBP, a calculation which the DfE said is based on projections which show that every £1 spent on construction projects generates around £3 of economic activity.
The scheme is creating jobs, with the 260 projects typically employing 39,000 workers over the programme’s lifetime, regional development and opportunities for local small and medium enterprises to be sub-contracted work, the Government said.
The Government used the rebuilding of Campsmount Technology College, which is now an academy, near Doncaster, as a pilot project to find ways of delivering school buildings at a lower cost than previous programmes.
It led to recommendations which were rolled out for the PSBP. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “Investing in the PSBP is not only delivering great new schools that will help prepare thousands of young people for life in modern Britain, but it is also a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a stronger economy, creating jobs and security for hard-working people.”
She added: “We’re also making sure each school is built efficiently so that we get value for money for the taxpayer while delivering excellent schools for pupils and teachers.”
The Government has announced a second phase of the scheme, worth about £2bn, and applications are currently being considered.
PSBP has not been without contention. Last year town hall chiefs raised concerns about delays to the start of the programme. The scheme was set up after Ministers controversially scrapped Labour’s £55bn Building Schools for the Future initiative in 2010. Hundreds of schools which were expecting to have buildings refurbished or rebuilt saw their plans scrapped.