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Gove announces £500m schools allocations but rejects BSF challenge

Education secretary Michael Gove has today allocated £500 million of funding to more than 100 local authorities to address the shortage of pupil places this year.

Mr Gove announced the additional basic needs funding in July and today released details of how much each authority would receive under the programme (see file attached).

The funding has come from efficiencies achieved on existing Building Schools for the Future projects, he said.

The money is intended to help those authorities with the greatest pressure on school places.

In a written ministerial statement Mr Gove said:  “I can announce today that over 100 local authorities will receive a share of the funding.

“The allocations have been calculated using figures provided to the Department for Education by local authorities through the 2011 School Capacity and Forecast Information returns.

“By using the most up-to-date information available we are making sure the savings identified are being targeted to local authorities experiencing the most severe need.”

Mr Gove said there was an urgent need for the places after the Office for National Statistics updated its projections for population growth last week.

If found previous projections had underestimated the level of growth and that by 2020 there would be around 21 per cent more primary age children than in 2010.

The extra funding means the government has now allocated £1.3bn in 2011-12 to pay for additional school places.

It follows the £800m of funding announced in December.

Mr Gove said:  “The nature of this funding - capital grant which is not ring fenced; the nature of the projects it will fund - mainly small primary school projects; and the readiness of local authorities to get projects underway, mean that this money will be spent efficiently.

“Further, I expect much of it to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises and to stimulate local economic activity across the country.

“I would like to reassure those local authorities whose needs were not as severe as others - and which, therefore, did not receive a share of this extra £500m - that future capital allocations for basic need and maintenance pressures will be announced later in the year.”

The education secretary also announced his decision on the six local authorities that brought a judicial review over the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme.

He said: “I announced what I was minded to do in July and have received further representations from each of the claimant authorities.

“I considered these carefully but I am not persuaded that I should depart from the decision which I announced I was minded to take.

“My final decision is, therefore, not to fund the schools in the claim but, instead, to fund, in capital grant, the value of the claimant authorities’ proven contractual liabilities.”

And he confirmed plans to launch a 12 week consultation on the revision of school premises regulations.

The consultation document sets out how the government intends to reduce bureaucracy surrounding the current requirements.

Mr Gove added: “I am proposing to make the requirements for independent and maintained schools identical and to reduce the overall number of regulations.

“Some regulations are duplicated in other pieces of legislation or are simply unnecessary and I propose to remove these regulations completely.

“I also think that other regulations can be simplified to remove unnecessary bureaucracy and make requirements proportionate, without reducing the quality of buildings.

“I would welcome views on my proposals, further details of which can be found on the Department for Education’s website.”

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