Indicative allocation of spending for 2021-22 comes on top of £320m trailed earlier this week
The Treasury has allocated an additional £655m of capital funding to complete the delivery of the batch of 110 extra free schools announced by the government this week, Building can reveal.
On Tuesday plans were trailed for 140 new schools, indicating that £320m would be used to create 70,000 school places.
The chancellor confirmed the plans for more free schools in his speech today, saying: “I can announce funding for a further 110 new free schools, on top of the current commitment to 500.”
In the statement accompanying the speech, the government said: “The government will extend the free schools programme with investment of £320m in this Parliament to help fund up to 140 schools, including independent-led, faith, selective, university-led and specialist maths schools.”
It went on to add: “Of these 140 schools, 30 will open by September 2020 and count towards the government’s existing commitment,” meaning 110 free schools would be built on top of those previously announced.
But in the small print of the Treasury documents released after the speech an additional £655m is indicated as anticipated for to “extend free schools programme” in the next parliament for the year 2021/22.
A Treasury spokesperson confirmed that £320m will be spent over this parliament for delivery of 30 free schools, with £655m for the remaining 110 schools.
The extra spending will be welcomed by the construction industry but the decision to target funding on free schools comes as the programme has faced scrutiny from the National Audit Office for cost overruns.
In 2010 the Department for Education estimated it would cost £900m by March 2015 to open 315 schools but it had spent double this – £1.8bn – to open 10 fewer schools. The programme is expected to total £9.7bn by March 2021, of which 80% relates to the cost of construction with the remainder spent on the cost of land, the NAO added.
The chancellor also announced an additional £216m for school maintenance costs over the next three years, which he said takes “total investment in school condition to well over £10 billion over this Parliament”.
The NAO report said it would cost £6.7bn to bring school buildings up to a “satisfactory” condition, with a further £7.1bn needed to fix parts of buildings suffering minor deterioration.