Headlines: September 24th, 2010

Council leaders say fifteen billion pounds will have to be spent in the next four years if every school child is to have a place in a decent classroom. Analysis by the Local Government Association and Association of Directors of Children’s Services says the figure is the absolute minimum councils need between now and 2015 so every child can be taught in a classroom which is safe and structurally sound.

The study also warns that almost five billion pounds is considered essential for the next financial year. The two bodies say that their figures reinforce the need to reform the country’s entire approach to capital projects in the face of the unprecedented squeeze on public spending. More than 700 projects from the Building Schools for the Future programme have been halted by the Government because of the state of the economy.

Council leaders want all public spending on buildings and other capital projects to be pooled in local areas to get best value for money and to attract private investment. They say that would mean the building work needed for new school capacity could be combined with a scheme to provide a new GP surgery, for example, leading to savings in both the education and health.

Baroness Margaret Eaton, who chairs the LGA, said: “Local government is asking for freedoms which will make the country’s money go further. The common sense flexibility we’re requesting will mean councils all over the country can build new schools and improve neighbourhood facilities that residents use every day.”