The European Investment Bank is set to double the £300m rescue fund it has made available to help speed up schools projects

The EIB has been in talks with delivery body Partnerships for Schools over the possibility of further funding for the £45bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative. It agreed earlier this year to make £300m available to help schemes with a PFI element that have been hit by a lack of bank financing.

It is understood that the parties are close to signing a deal that will make at least another £300m available.

The move comes as sources reported that the £350m Salford and Wigan BSF scheme, which is already 15 months behind, will be delayed for a further three months.

The remaining teams in contention for the scheme are Lend Lease and a Hochtief–Laing O’Rourke joint venture. A preferred bidder was due to appointed in January 2008, but a source close to the project said that an announcement was not expected until June.

The source said that the delays had been caused mainly by procurement issues and the complexity of the scheme.

The Salford and Wigan scheme is believed to be in the running for the first tranche of funding

He said: “It’s been a protracted process. However, I can’t believe there aren’t issues over funding.”

The project is believed to be in the running for the first tranche of EIB funding, which has yet to be divided up.

Other schemes that could be in line for money include a £200m bundle of schools in Southwark and a £300m programme in Barnsley.

The EIB funding is one of a number of initiatives aimed at speeding up PFI deals during the downturn. The Treasury is still finalising details of its own PFI rescue package, which aims to secure the future of up to £3bn of PFI projects across sectors including education, healthcare and transport.