Regional frameworks may be set up for maintenance and facilities management work in schools, the head of the government’s school delivery agency has said

In a positive move for small firms, Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools (PfS), said he was looking at introducing regional frameworks for maintenance, FM and small improvement works.

He said: “We want to explore using local, small contractors to do things quickly. We will be looking at more frameworks, especially local ones as we look at maintenance more.”

Although the scope of PfS’ remit under a future government remains uncertain, the principle of getting more local firms involved in small-scale works is supported by both main political parties. There is also expected to be a growing shift towards refurbishment work in the later stages of the school renewal programme.

Meanwhile, senior education sources have suggested that the government’s school building programme would be protected from the impact of spending cuts for several months.

One said this week that the impact of any cuts after the election “won’t be immediate”, owing to the long gestation period of schools projects.

He said projects that had reached preferred bidder or Official Journal stage would be difficult to stop: “It’s unlikely, because of the risk of legal challenge from the bidders.”

However, he added: “Projects that are pre-Official Journal are easier to slow down. Nobody is saying there’s a mind to do that, but it’s entirely possible.”