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The DFE (Department for Education) has had to re-open its “asbestos management assurance process” as 1 in 4 schools have failed to respond.
The process asks schools to declare if they are compliant or not with their legal duty to manage asbestos on their premises.
Schools had a deadline to respond which was at the end of May this year.
But due to almost a quarter of schools failing to respond, it has prompted the DFE to re-open the process until February 2019.
Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, said, “The results of the asbestos management assurance process will be published in the spring next year,” Gibb told MPs during education questions this afternoon.”
“Seventy-seven per cent of schools have responded so far, but we expect all state-funded schools and academies to participate, so we have re-opened the assurance process from today until February 2019, to give them a further opportunity to do so.”
There are fears however that extending the process will mean the results of the survey will be in too late in order to influence next year’s spending review.
This is where the government will decide how much money schools will receive from 2020 onwards.
Labour MP and chair of the parliamentary public accounts committee, Meg Hillier, has continually voiced her concerns about asbestos in our schools.
She wants government ministers to take the matter seriously and commit to funding to tackle asbestos management in schools.
Ms Hillier said, “The problem with publishing this long-awaited information in the spring is that this is likely to be too late to properly influence the spending review.”
“Given that 85 per cent of schools have asbestos and the risks are getting greater as those buildings age, will the minister make a serious commitment to providing the funding to schools to tackle that asbestos, otherwise there’s no real incentive for them to come up with a plan, given the pinch on their budgets.”
Nick Gibb responded by saying that there are existing capital funding pots available to schools for maintenance, which includes managing asbestos in their buildings.
He added that 68 per cent of the 17,000 schools that responded to the survey were found to be “assured by the appropriate responsible body”.
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