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Recession threatens buildings cash

Schools in line to be built using private sector money under the Building Schools for the Future programme could be put on hold because of the deepening recession, The TES has learnt.

Around 60 per cent of BSF schools are funded directly from the Government, but the remaining 40 per cent rely on private cash in the shape of private finance initiatives.

It is understood that the Government-funded projects will be brought forward until the private finance market begins to pick up - just one of a host of measures being explored by Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the agency overseeing the Building Schools for the Future initiative, to keep the project on track.

The news comes less than a month after The TES revealed that the agency was forced to turn to the European Union for funding. It is understood the European Investment Bank has handed over Pounds 300 million to bring three local authorities' BSF projects back on track.

A PfS spokeswoman said it was working "extremely hard" to manage the impact of the recession.

"This includes identifying additional sources of funding senior debt, including via the European Investment Bank," she said. "Together with other mechanisms, such as early works agreements and split financial closes, these proactive measures are working to help ensure that BSF continues to be delivered on time and on budget."

The British Council for School Environments, which acts as a design watchdog, said it was "important to keep an eye on the objectives" of the building programmes.

Ian Fordham, its deputy chief executive, said: "Any measures, such as split financial closures, which support contractors and other players in BSF during these difficult economic circumstances, are welcome. And we must continue to ensure quality in design and build while keeping the BSF programme on track."

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