Timeframe for spend revealed as court ruling gives £1bn of other BSF schemes hope

The government is to phase £800m of funding for academies over the next two years, sources close to the programme revealed this week.

The move has emerged two weeks after the government approved the funding for 75 academy projects that had been put on hold, ending months of uncertainty. The development comes as six other schools programmes worth £1bn, that were scrapped when the £55bn Building Schools for the Future initiative was cancelled, were offered hope of a reprieve after the High Court ruled that they should be reconsidered.

It is understood that contractors on the academies framework were briefed by government officials last Thursday that the £800m academies work would be staggered over two years.

It is thought that the schemes will be encouraged to adopt new, reduced space standards being discussed by officials working alongside the Sebastian James review team looking at future schools procurement. A cut of about 15% to minimum standards is being discussed.

The schemes will also be procured using new fast-track methods that have been trialled on the £10m Campsmount Technology project in Doncaster, on which Wates reached financial close this week. The scheme has been procured in 22 weeks compared with the previous 48-week long process.

The academies funding equates to cuts of £1bn compared with the total originally promised to the schemes, but provides a major boost to the 15 contractors on the academies framework.

These are Apollo, Balfour Beatty, Bam, Bovis, Carillion, Clugston, Interserve, Kier, Leadbitter, Rydon, Shepherd, Sir Robert McAlpine, Vinci, Wates and Willmott Dixon.
Meanwhile, six councils last week won the chance of a reprieve over the cancellation of their BSF schemes after a High Court judge in a judicial review hearing ruled that the government must reconsider the evidence for scrapping their projects. Mr Justice Holman ruled that Michael Gove’s decision to scrap the six schemes (see box right) was an “abuse of power” as they had not been sufficiently consulted.

However, in a blow to other schools hoping the ruling would mean their projects might reconsidered, the judge said that any other authorities would now be too late to apply for review.

Will fortune favour the brave?: BSF schemes to be reconsidered

Waltham Forest
Value of schemes: £258m
BSF contractor: Bouygues

Value of schemes: £128m
BSF contractor: Interserve

Value of schemes: £36m
BSF contractor: Carillion

Value of schemes: £255m
BSF contractor: Kier

Value of schemes: £230m
BSF contractor: Laing O’Rourke

Value of schemes: £48m
BSF contractor: Wates