Feeds

Credit crunch hits school rebuilding programme

The new abacuses are here kids...

Top three mobile application threats

The National Audit Office says councils are struggling to borrow money under the Private Finance Initiative to build schools fitted with new ICT

In a report on Building Schools for the Future (BSF), the programme to rebuild secondary schools and equip them with the latest technology, the NAO says that during 2008 problems in the banking sector reduced the money available to lend.

Of the £45bn predicted total spend on BSF, 10% will be allocated for new technology. As a result of the credit crunch, however, it has become increasingly difficult for local authorities to find lenders for the PFI deals used for BSF.

In October 2008 Kent CC was the last local authority to agree a PFI contract for its BSF programme. LB Newham intended to use the PFI to build two schools when it established a Local Education Partnership (LEP) between itself, a construction company and an ICT supplier in January 2009, but had to use conventional funding instead.

The report says that BSF projects already under way have not been delayed because of the economic conditions, but the extent to which problems in the finance markets will affect BSF is unclear.

"The Department for Children, Schools and Families and Partnerships for Schools (PfS) are in active discussion with banks and other potential lenders and believe that BSF remains one of the more attractive markets for bidders," says the NAO.

"PfS has secured commitment in principle from the European Investment Bank for £300m of investment in the senior debt of BSF PFI projects."

The NAO also found that the department and PfS, the agency responsible for the programme, were "overly optimistic" in their assumptions of how quickly the first high tech schools could be delivered. In February 2008 the department said it wanted to build 200 schools, but only 42 were delivered.

The NAO also found that there are fewer active ICT contractors than construction contractors in the programme. When forming new consortia to bid for projects, construction contractors compete for ICT contractors who have already won bids elsewhere, the report says.

Capital costs have increased by between 16% and 23%, and the cost of establishing LEPs has been high. In the first 15 LEPs, the total cost of designing schools, procuring a private sector partner and setting up the LEP averaged between £9m and £10m. This was due to delays, reliance on consultants, large numbers of sample schemes and alterations to standardised documents.

The NAO says that its report focuses on procurement because it is too early to measure how effective BSF has been in improving education. It calls on PfS to speed up its collection of cost information on BSF schools, including procurement, ICT life cycle costs and PFI contract variation costs.

Tim Burr, the chief auditor, said: "Building Schools for the Future is a highly ambitious programme. Converting that ambition to reality requires robust planning, close cost control and making a success of complex long term partnerships.

"Partnerships for Schools and the department were too optimistic in their early plans, though programme management has since improved. But it remains a real challenge, in difficult market conditions, to deliver the 250 schools a year that will be needed, to include all schools by 2020 as currently planned."

This story was originally published at KableNet

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.