April 15, 2013
Stephen Twigg MP, Labour's Shadow Education Secretary on Friday 12 April released figures from a Freedom of Information request relating to the budget for school repairs and maintenance. These figures show a gap of £350bn between the estimated total cost of the repair backlog and the Government's allocation for 2013/14 for the repairs.
Commenting on the need for the schools repairs budget to address the issue of asbestos riddled aging school stock, John Spencer, Director of Spencers Solicitors, a leading personal injury claimant law firm based in Chesterfield, said:
"Schools will never be free of asbestos as long as the Government refuses to provide enough funding to deal with this deadly issue. Figures from a Freedom of Information request show that the schools repairs budget is wholly inadequate to deal with the current state of the English school stock. The school repairs budget doesn't even provide enough funding to deal with the removal of asbestos in schools. This is a dreadful situation considering 75% of UK schools contain asbestos, a material known to cause cancer.
We already know from Partnerships in Schools that 80% of schools stock is beyond its design life. With asbestos now killing nearly four times as many teachers compared to the 1980s and the number of children put at risk is still unknown, should budgets really be put before the health of our current and future generations? There is no point undertaking a half-hearted repairs programme of UK schools without addressing the real and serious issues they face."
For more information on the problem of asbestos in schools please see our previous blogs.