Last year, the National Audit Office (NAO) reported that it would cost £6.7 billion to bring all school buildings up to a satisfactory condition and another £7.1 billion to ensure that all buildings were in a good condition.
It also stated that funding for maintaining the school estate had fallen since 2010-11 and that the Department for Education expected its condition to deteriorate in the future.
The NAO said it was told by the DfE that “it estimates that the cost of returning all school buildings to satisfactory or better condition will double between 2015-16 and 2020-21, even with current levels of funding, as many buildings near the end of their original design life”.
The public spending watchdog warned: “This position, combined with weak accountability for the condition of the school estate and weak incentives for schools to maintain their buildings, creates a significant risk that defects will go unrepaired and will cost more to address in the future.”
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the second phase of the DfE’s Priority School Building Programme had underspent by more than 64 per cent in 2016-17, and that the completion date would now be pushed forward a year.
The second phase was launched in 2014 and was supposed to rebuild or refurbish buildings at 277 schools by the end of 2021.
However, a report by the government’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority this summer revealed that, as a result of overambitious forecasts, the £77 million investment planned for 2016-17 was underspent by more than £50 million. The programme is now forecast to finish in December 2022.