The government's £45 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme is benefitting from the current economic downturn, according to the man charged with delivering the ambitious scheme.
Tim Byles (pictured) – chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, the government's schools delivery body – was bullish about BSF's future this morning (23 June), claiming that the demand for contracts is as high as ever.
Byles said: 'We have seen three new entrants bidding for BSF for the first time.
'In terms of the downturn that is affecting housebuilders, it is benefitting us to an extent, as there is more availability of labour.
'And in terms of funding and deal completions, we have seen no delays. Banks are still seeing it as a good financial risk.'
Byles was speaking on the announcement of eight local authorities that have been fast-tracked to join the BSF initiative.
Enfield, Hounslow, North Tyneside, Rotherham, Southampton, Staffordshire, Walsall and Worcestershire will all join the programme from this summer.
Byles said: ‘Around half of all authorities in England have already embarked on BSF.
‘To keep this momentum in the programme we are now fast-tracking a number of local authorities that can demonstrate they are ready to join BSF ahead of the original timetable for delivery.’