Gove attacked for failing to tell academy schemes worth £1.8bn what cuts they have to make

Consultants have attacked the government for its lack of clarity about what cost savings must be made by 75 threatened academies in order to avoid cancellation.

Last week, Michael Gove, the education secretary, told 33 sample schools and 44 academies that they could go ahead with their building programmes. But 75 other academies, worth a total of £1.8bn, were asked to reduce the cost of their plans before a final decision on their fate is made in the October Comprehensive Spending Review.

Although Gove has personally called the sponsors of the 75 academies, consultants have said they are still uncertain about what cost savings must be made and what the criteria are for approval.

A source at a major consultant said: “We’re trying to get hold of any information we can on our academies, but nobody has been given any indication. I’d expect cuts of about 30%, but I wouldn’t throw money at finding a solution because a good portion of the 75 will probably be cut in October anyway.”

Another said: “Everything has hit the fan. One of my academies was pencilled in for just over £20m but now we’ve to wait until October and have been told to reduce costs. But should we drop it to £15m, or £10m, or £5m? And anyone who does that is basically sacrificing their scheme.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said there was “no target amount” for the reduction. He added:

“We don’t want to be prescriptive. It’s about looking at all the options.”

Andrew Chauvin, a director of Gleeds, said: “Like with Building Schools for the Future this seems to be conducted in a vacuum. We’ve been trying to talk to people across the industry - people we deal with on a day to day basis, like councils and Partnerships for Schools - but everybody is in the dark.”