Cuts of £1bn confirmed but 15 firms will share 75 schemes and be first in line for free schools work

The government is to release £800m of schools work to contractors on its academies framework, in a major boost to the firms on the list.

It is understood delivery agency Partnerships for Schools will meet the 15 contractors on the list next Thursday. It will brief them on the work, which will enable 75 academies projects put on hold last year to go ahead.

The funding represents a cut of about £1bn from the total originally promised to the projects, but will end months of uncertainty over them. The money will come from the capital funding settlement for education announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review in October.

Kier, Sir Robert McAlpine and Willmott Dixon are among the 15 firms on the list. The others are Balfour Beatty, Bam, Bovis, Carillion, Clugston, Interserve, Shepherd, Vinci, Wates, Apollo, Leadbitter and Rydon.

In a further boost for the firms - but a blow to those not on the list - groups setting up free schools are being directed by government advisers to use the framework unless they can show that using another method, such as existing local authority frameworks, is more efficient.

The announcement of the academies funding comes amid continued delay to the publication of the government’s review into future school building projects.

It is understood that an interim report, originally due in September, could be published next week, but the full report detailing how work will be procured is unlikely to appear before the spring.

This delay is causing increasing frustration for construction firms and schools. Research released this week by BSEC, the Building Schools Exhibition and Conference held later this month, found 66% of people working in education feel confused and misled over school building policy and have found it difficult to get information on funding.

Only 4% felt fully informed by the government, and 50% said they did not know where to go for information. Of those surveyed, 99% believed a well designed school was important for pupils.