Ellie Ames 07 September 2023

Ministers fear public building disruption after school closures

Ministers fear public building disruption after school closures  image
Image: Bart Lenoir Photography / Shutterstock.com.

Some ministers reportedly fear widespread disruption and huge costs if public buildings containing reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) are held to the standards the Department for Education (DfE) set by closing schools.

Last week, days before the start of term, the DfE told 104 schools to close buildings known to contain RAAC, a weak form of concrete.

Ministers are concerned that education secretary Gillian Keegan has opened a ‘Pandora's box’ by setting a more cautious than necessary standard, which could affect a wide array of public buildings, Sky News has reported.

Ms Keegan herself has said she took the most cautious of the options presented by officials over the closures. Some ministers disagree that the technical advice showed a need to shut schools, according to Sky.

RAAC was used in building construction from the 1950s until the mid-1990s, and can be found across the public sector, including in hospitals and local authority buildings.

The Local Government Association (LGA) advises its members to check ‘as a matter of urgency’ whether any buildings in their estates contain RAAC.

Conservative peer Baroness Neville-Rolfe told the House of Lords yesterday that while the Government had agreed to fund ‘extensive RAAC mitigation works’ across the NHS and in schools, it would consider the approach to funding for other affected public sector buildings ‘on a case by case basis’.

If this article was of interest, then check out our feature, 'RAAC: what housing associations need to know about the concrete crisis.'

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