Too much spent on consultants and too few schools improved, claim Conservatives

The Conservatives have accused Partnership for Schools (PfS) of overspending on consultants when delivering the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme.

Shadow children's secretary Michael Gove said the £170m price tag, unearthed using the Freedom of Information Act, raised concerns over the efficiency and cost control of the government's £50bn programme which, he added, had already suffered from severe delays and escalating costs.

“Only 15 local authorities have had any changes made to their schools, leaving the majority of a total 25,000 schools having undergone no improvements at all,” the Tory party said in a release.

Gove criticised the school refurbishment scheme and said the public needed “a government that is able to get more for less”.

Michael Gove
Gove said the public needed “a government that is able to get more for less”

But a spokesperson for 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 around 3% of the total value of their BSF scheme to ensure successful delivery locally.

“Some local authorities spend more than this amount whilst others spend considerably less. It is not, however, for us to dictate the precise amount that each authority should spend as it will vary depending on the scale of their project.”

She added that the Conservatives' numbers were out of date, pointing out that 120 schools had now opened across 32 local authorities, and denied that costs would have risen in kind:

“The [freedom of information] request to LAs is current, but they have laid it out alongside what they think are the current figures.”