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The condition of school buildings across England has been in the news recently; raising concern and alarm for many parents. The focus of many news reports has been on the issue of RAAC and the enforced closures of schools as a result of the presence of RAAC.
However, as discussed in our previous article, RAAC is only one part of a much bigger problem. In fact, according to a report this year from the National Audit Office, around 700,000 children in England were found to be attending schools requiring major rebuilding or refurbishment. The report also found that 24,000 school buildings – representing 38% of schools – are thought to be “beyond their estimated initial design life”. Whilst this does not always pose a risk to safety, using a building beyond its design life without adequate upgrades or maintenance can lead to higher maintenance and running costs over time.
Furthermore, the DfE has estimated that a £5.3 billion a year budget in capital funding would “maintain schools and mitigate the most serious risks of building failure”. However, the current annual budget is £3.1 billion. This equates to a yearly shortfall in funding of over £2 billion – which will only lead to further issues in the condition of schools over time.
Whilst the government are aware about the standards of school buildings falling as an overall picture, there appears to be a lack of detailed information on the severity of the issue. Worryingly, the Department for Education has regarded the risk of a fatal building collapse in a school in England as “critical and very likely” since 2021.
With scarce resources available, it’s vital for schools to seek guidance and professional advice. Whilst there is funding available for schools to access, not all schools are opting to make funding applications. This suggests that schools are not always aware of how to make the most of the funding that is currently available.
Furthermore, schools that are making applications for funding need to be sure they are putting forward full and detailed applications that are tailored to meet the requirements of each funding pot.
In order to make the most of funding opportunities, schools should access the professional advice from School Building Consultants who have a proven track record for seeking and gaining funding for school building, maintenance and improvement works. Lea Hough are one of the leading firms offering this service to schools in the North West and have helped schools and sixth form colleges in Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Cumbria to obtain millions of pounds of funding via routes including CIF, LCVAP, PSDS and UCS.
There is little doubt that having a School Building Consultant on hand to represent and fight their corner has helped our existing school clients to obtain more funding for more projects than they might have otherwise achieved. As the application process is entirely managed by our experienced Surveyors, it also takes the time and stress of such an application away from school management teams that are already stretched to their limits.
Lea Hough’s team are happy to speak to schools about how we can help with funding applications – with many of our services requiring no upfront fees. To arrange a free, no obligation site visit from one of our Chartered Surveyors, please get in touch.
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