The chief executive of Carillion has said that up to a quarter of the cost of the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme could be saved by scrapping sample schemes and reducing build costs

John McDonough, whose firm is involved in several BSF schemes, including Rochdale, Tameside and Gateshead, said his “Christmas wish” for Partnerships for Schools (PfS) chief executive Tim Byles was to “do away with sample schemes and find a better way of benchmarking cost and value for money”. He added that “double digit” savings could be found by reducing the build costs. “Overall, the number I always say is between 15 and 25%,” he said.

His comments came after Byles repeated a commitment to reduce procurement times from an average of 75 weeks to below 52.

As part of a review of the process being carried out over the autumn, it is understood that PfS is looking at the possibility of reducing the number of sample schemes needed before projects go ahead.

A spokesperson for PfS said EU procurement rules dictated that both the bidder and the bid must be rigorously tested, meaning sample schemes were a requirement of the process.