Monday 5 July 2010

Short-sighted building cuts

Modern school buildings - over 1100 new schools were built since 1997 - remain one of Labour's great educational legacies. And while there may well be savings to be made in the Building for the Future (BSF) programme through more standardised plans, it is deeply worrying to see the coalition treating the abandonment of school building plans almost as a badge of pride.

While there may be a good case for some cuts in revenue spending, the cuts in buildings investment cannot but hinder the recovery, damaging the construction sector. This is an investment in the future which should not be treated as an optional extra. George Osborne effectively acknowledged in his Budget speech that previous Tory governments mistakenly cut capital investment during previous recessions. It remains to be seen how the capital programme emerges after this review of BSF: but a return to the days of crumbling schools in the 90s would not only be bad for education, it would be bad for the economy and future growth.

No wonder business confidence is ebbing from the economy.

This post also appears on the Public Finance blog.


Tom Richmond said...

To be fair, it isn't just an issue of the amount of money spent on BSF - the efficiency of the money spent has been criticised for months and months.

Michael Gove pointed out that new schools could be built for a third of the cost of a BSF school, thanks to the quangos, wastage, dusplication and bureaucratic minefield that BSF created.

Conor Ryan said...

Tom - that sounds like a pretty extreme example, if true. It would have been far better to allow the 700+ projects to go ahead, given lots has been spent on them already, and review the process for remaining schools. I think this has been a huge error, both politically and for the schools and pupils involved.