Abbey Lane Primary: Council left in lurch as £600,000 funding to repair RAAC at Sheffield school is pulled
"Broken promises mean that children will ultimately suffer as a result."
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The repair job was well underway over two months before the issue of RAAC became a national scandal in late July 2023, and is scheduled to be completed by December.
However, Sheffield Labour claims the Government has now withdrawn the half-a-million pounds promised through their school maintenance budget - while simultaneously now pledging to instead fund "longer-term refurbishment or rebuilding projects".
Councillor Dawn Dale, chair of the Education, Children and Families Policy Committee, said: "Initially we were led to believe that the DfE would reimburse local authorities for any works carried out to remove RAAC. I am hugely disappointed that the government has gone back on that promise and have let down young people in Sheffield as a result. They should pay up.
"Schools in this country are in a terrible state due to years of government chronic underfunding. Broken promises to cover the costs will mean that our overall maintenance budget is even smaller and children will ultimately suffer as a result. Some schools will wait even longer for new windows or repairs, because there just won’t be enough cash available, which makes me angry."
In the summer at least 100 schools in England were ordered to shut immediately over safety concerns linked to "crumbly" RAAC (reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete).
In Sheffield, however, Abbey Lane was the only school identified with the material - and was already receiving repair work, and was able to open fully for the new term in September.
The bill to repair the roof - reportedly isolated to the kitchen area - is £620,000, which was baked into the council's annual £3.5m school maintenance budget. Meanwhile, in August, The Star revealed how more than £100m is currently needed to repair all issues across the city's maintained schools, against the £3.5m provided by the DfE each year.
Now, it appears the council will have to find the £620,000, even as the repairs are already underway.
Louise Haigh MP for Sheffield Heeley, said: "This is another example of the many broken promises by this Tory government. When they announced in the summer, days before children were due to return to school, following the summer break, that many schools were being forced to close, due to this dangerous concrete, they promised to cover the cost of the work. However, nearly three months on, and the government is yet to pay up.
"Sheffield Council have taken the necessary steps and provided more than £600,000 to carry out the work at Abbey Lane Primary School, but this does mean that other schools will be missing out."
It comes after a national report in June found 700,000 children in England are learning in ‘unsafe or aging’ buildings that need major repairs.
The Department for Education was contacted for a comment and did not respond after four days.