Magazine article Public Finance

Expertise 'Is Lacking' for School Rebuilding

Magazine article Public Finance

Expertise 'Is Lacking' for School Rebuilding

Article excerpt

Town halls may find it tough to deliver the government's ambitious school rebuilding programme unless they begin planning now, experts have warned.

Under the Building Schools for the Future scheme, ministers want every secondary school in England to be rebuilt or refurbished over the next 15 years.

To achieve this, most councils will be expected to form a Local Education Partnership with a private sector contractor.

Although the first LEPs will not come into being until later this year, fears are already emerging that the pool of expertise to run these projects is a small and rapidly diminishing one.

Martin Lipson, the BSF director at 4Ps, which is helping authorities get to grips with the management challenges of the programme, said small councils in particular were struggling to find people with the appropriate expertise to oversee the complex funding and tendering process.

'The only solution is to slow down or buy in, at great expense, people they don't have control over,' he told Public Finance.

'Some of the smaller authorities have to take it at a pace they can manage. Its all about time. Authorities have to plan ahead much more than they ever imagined.'

Lipson refused to be drawn on whether the 15-year target was likely to be met, but noted that the programme could be adjusted to focus more on refurbishment and less on new build. …

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