The Conservatives have accused local authorities of overspending on consultants when delivering the Building Schools for the Future programme

Michael Gove, the shadow children’s secretary, said figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed that £170m was spent on consultants. He said this raised concerns over cost control on the government’s £45bn programme which, he added, had already suffered from delays and escalating costs.

The Conservative party said only 15 local authorities had any changes made to their schools, leaving most of the UK’s secondary schools undergoing no improvements at all.

Gove said the public needed “a government that is able to get more for less”. The attack renews fears the Tories would abolish delivery body Partnerships for Schools (PfS) if they win the election.

PfS said it allowed local authorities a free hand when deciding how much to spend on consultants. “We give an indicative steer that councils should expect to spend about 3% of the total value of their BSF schemes to ensure successful delivery locally,” he said.

She added that the Tories’ numbers were out of date, pointing out that 120 schools had now opened across 32 local authorities.