Schools affected by collapse-risk concrete will not have to pay for repairs out of their budgets, the education secretary has insisted.
Gillian Keegan told Sky News there will be no new money to fix the problem, but the costs will be covered by the Department for Education (DfE)..
There has been a growing row over who will pay to pick up the bill for repairs to reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) after the government announced last week that more than 100 schools would have to close or partially close because of the risks associated with it.
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Ms Keegan said ministers had already procured stock of portable cabins for schools that need temporary accommodation – and the DfE is paying for this “directly”.
She said: “We have eight structural surveying firms who go in and do the surveys.
“We have three portacabin providers, so we’ve laid up a stock of portacabins so that people can be prepared quickly to be able to do that if they need temporary accommodation. And we’ve also looked at a propping company that’s nationwide.
“The Department for Education will pay for all of that.”
Ms Keegan could not say how much funding would be ringfenced towards the issue but admitted it was likely to cost “many, many millions of pounds” – as some schools will have to be rebuilt.
Asked if schools that are already strapped for cash will have to find more money, Ms Keegan insisted: “No, we will pay for that.”
Asked if the money will come out of school budgets, Ms Keegan said: “No. It’s coming out of the Department for Education.”
On Sunday Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said he would “spend what it takes” to address the problem, but Treasury sources later said money for repairs would come from the Department for Education’s (DfE) existing capital budget.
The government is facing pressure to “get a grip” on the issue after admitting more schools may have to close once more surveys are complete.
Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow leader of the House of Commons, told Sky News the full scale of the problem is still unknown and ministers must “come clean to parents, staff and pupils” and publish the full list of schools affected.