Construction industry braces itself for scaling back of £55bn school rebuilding programme

Michael Gove, the education secretary, is expected to announce cuts to the £55bn Building Schools for the Future programme later today.

Reports suggest that around 700 projects to build or renovate school sites are likely to be scrapped. Another 500 schemes, where work is at advanced stage, will carry on.

So far 180 schools have been rebuilt or refurbished under the Labour government’s programme which started in 2004. Another 231 schools have reached financial close, and it is thought these projects will go ahead.

The construction industry will be keen to know the fate of schools that have reached preferred bidder stage, whose future has been uncertain since the election.

Industry source had said they expected most at preferred bidder stage to go ahead in their current form, although they had warned of “grey areas”.

Today’s announcement is expected formally to freeze work on all schemes that have not reached its cut-off point and the government will then reveal the terms of a review of the remainder of the schools renewal programme.

More than 1,000 schools have applied for BSF funding but the government has said it wants to investigate their “value for money”.

On 10 June a government statement said: “The department is reviewing BSF to ensure that when we build schools for the future, we do so in a more cost-effective and efficient fashion.”

Some in the construction industry had feared the extent of the scaling back would not be revealed until the autumn with the Comprehensive Spending Review.