Figures released today show scale of spending on paperwork for cancelled schoolbuilding programme

Councils in England have spent over £160m on paperwork and legal preparation for school rebuilding works now cancelled under the Building Schools for the Future programme, figures reveal today.

The BSF programme, abandoned last week by the coalition government, required councils to undertake public consultations and appoint architects ahead of individual projects being given the green light. A survey of 67 councils by the Local Government Association (LGA) shows town halls had to negotiate 60 separate documents, submit strategic overviews to the government, and appoint project boards to oversee their submissions.

Councillor Shireen Ritchie, chair of the Children and Young People’s Board at the LGA, said: “BSF meant significant investment for many areas and has been a boost to local economies. The process was over-bureaucratic and wasted councils’ time and money, but the key issue is that around 700 schools and 80 councils now have to deal with plans being cancelled and scaled back.”

The LGA is calling for explanations from the government to schools that have had building programmes cancelled. Schools should also be advised on when they can next expect investment.

Ritchie said: “Many councils and schools are currently in limbo. It’s crucial now that local areas, schools and the families get some straight answers about what they can expect to be done to improve and maintain the schools their children spend hours in day after day.”