Yesterday, Friday the 10th December 2010, was the closing date for bids for funding for Band A school building and improvement grants under the 21st Century Schools programme and many if not all local authorities will have submitted bids, some reasonable like Wrecsam's £23 million to Flintshire's £82 million. One thing that is sure is that not all these bids will be funded as Dr Chris Llewelyn explains. Those that will be funded will start in April 2012 until 2015 when Band B bids will be called for.
The predecessor funding formula for school building prior to April 2012, was the School Building Improvement Grant (SBIG) which delivered in 3 tranches with the third tranche being delivered in 2011/12, included in that tranche is the £4.2 million for the proposed Welsh Medium Primary school in Gwersyllt.
On Wednesday of this week the 8th December 2010, Directors of Education received the following email from the Capital Funding Branch of DCELLS:
The purpose of my e-mail is to advise that the Business Minister will be issuing a Written Statement over the course of the next few days and that statement will make reference to tranche 3 projects that have been approved and that these project will be deferred until financial year 2012-13.
However, you will be aware that we are currently arranging meetings with Directors to discuss all transition projects including T3. Decisions on how we meet our commitments in line with budget availability will be made once those discussions have
So it would appear that the Tranche 3 SBIG funding is being deferred until 2012/13 which is also the year 21st Century Schools is supposed to commence,so is the 21st Century School Programme being deferred for a year as well?
Now we all know that Leighton Andrews is a shrewd operator and is this a move to re-direct some capital funding to subsidise University tuition fees for Welsh students because of the funding gap? Any cut backs to school building capital will undoubtedly be sidestepped by Leighton and blamed on the Westminster coalition's Comprehensive Spending Review. Blaming the deferrment of Tranche 3 of SBIG on Westminster will not wear, the SBIG funding was allocated at the start of the programme 3 years or more ago, even before the recession. There is no reason to defer SBIG T3, as the Minister has already allocated £478 million for capital expenditure on schools over the next 3 years.
We need answers to some questions...before the recess!
UPDATE - Too late; recess starts Monday 13th December 2010 until the 9th January...nice one Mrs Hutt, release bad news when Assembly members are not in Cardiff.