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Councils' lost BSF spending tops £200m

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The council bill for the cancelled Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects has topped £200m, the Local Government Association has revealed.

Updated figures from a survey of councils affected by education secretary Michael Gove’s decision to freeze work on the £55bn programme earlier this month also show that London appears to have been hit the hardest of any English regions.

The LGA said that figures from 75 authorities now showed more than £203m had been spent preparing for “stopped” school rebuilding or refurbishment programmes, or academy schemes placed under review.

Of that figure, London appeared to bear the brunt of investment in schools projects, having spent some £54m. Councils in the West Midlands were in second place in the losses league, with a £41m bill. Click on the table link (right) for a region-by-region breakdown of BSF investment on cancelled projects.

Last week, when the spending estimate was calculated to be some £161m, LGA Children & Young People’s Board chair Shireen Ritchie (Con) called for assurances that councils’ investment in BSF would not be wasted.

“Councils have invested millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money preparing for school building schemes which they are told will now not go ahead,” she said.

“Town halls which have embraced this government initiative should not be out of pocket and their residents should not end up footing the bill.

“Councils cannot now send good money after bad, so any future plans for school rebuilding should use preparatory work which has been done already as far as is practical.

“There are clearly some schools which need to take priority over others and get access to money for building work.”

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