The government’s decision to end the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme could trigger a wave of job losses for education-sector architects, with more than 1,000 redundancies predicted
On Monday (5 July), education secretary Michael Gove said all BSF projects yet to reach financial close would terminate with immediate effect, stopping dead 719 schemes worth £7.5 billion.
Speaking to the AJ hours after the news, a director at one affected practice said it was ‘beyond our worst expectations’, with redundancies ‘inevitable’.
He added: ‘If there are two or three people working on each stopped project, that adds up to a lot of architects.’
The RIBA estimates that 30 per cent of UK practices worked on the 20-year BSF programme and more than 1,000 jobs could be at risk across the profession.
Peter Drummond, chief executive of BDP, said he was unsure how badly Britain’s largest architecture practice would be affected, but he admitted the impact was ‘pretty serious’ for the construction industry. He added: ‘It begs the question of how serious educational infrastructure is to Gove.’
Gove told the House of Commons that BSF was characterised by ‘massive overspends, tragic delays, botched construction projects and needless bureaucracy’.
However, as many as 706 schools worth £4.5 billion will be built, and a review team will look at how to bring the BSF procurement model’s costs down.
Gove’s announcement follows a top-level purge of government projects, aimed at slicing £123 billion off capital spending commitments from now to 2016.
Every government department has been tasked with producing two savings models – one at 25 per cent cuts and another at 40 per cent.
Announcements of massive reductions to housing and transport budgets are still expected to come.
BSF Review - key points
• 719 BSF schemes to be scrapped: 180 new-build, 319 refurbishments, 63 ICT-only and 153 undisclosed
• 123 academies yet to reach financial close to be reviewed on a ‘case-by-case’ basis
• 34 ‘sample’ projects to be reviewed in recognition of local need
• Review of all capital investment in schools, early-years centres, colleges and sixth forms to be undertaken
• Annual funding of £972,000 for BSF-associated CABE design-advice service withdrawn