Over 100 local authorities will share nearly half of government's £919m boost to construction

Thousands of school modernisation developments in England can begin 12 months early, after £919m was brought forward in a bid to boost the construction industry.

The decision was announced today by children's secretary Ed Balls and schools minister Jim Knight.

Over 100 local authorities in England will share £499m, brought forward from 2010-11 to the coming financial year, after bidding for capital investment was made available in last November's Pre-Budget Report.

Balls has also accelerated £390m of capital funding transferred direct to every school head in England to invest in smaller projects as they see fit, such as building new classrooms or science laboratories.

The announcement comprises a key part of the government's fiscal stimulus package to boost the economy in the downturn.

As a result, overall schools spending in 2009/10 will now be £7.9bn, up from £700m a year in 1997.

Balls also welcomed new measures to support long-term public capital investment programmes, by enabling private finance to keep flowing into the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Children's secretary Ed Balls said: “The construction industry is one of the keys to a strong economy. We will never forgive ourselves if we turn our back on it during the current tough times and do not sustain it for the future.

“Accelerating £919m by 12 months is going to give immediate support to thousands of small and medium-sized businesses fitting out these new facilities.”

All accelerated spending will be taken off the 2010-11 local authority and school allocations. Ministers confirmed that 2010-11 capital allocations remain available for all local authorities to bring forward, including the 33 local authorities who have chosen not to bid so far.