he determination to spend £34 million to revamp the Division for Schooling’s headquarters had “nothing to do with me”, the Schooling Secretary has mentioned.
Gillian Keegan distanced herself from any involvement within the decision-making course of surrounding the refurbishment mission, insisting the choice had been made previous to her appointment as a minister and was authorised by the business director throughout the division.
Her feedback got here throughout Labour’s opposition day debate within the Commons on the protection of college buildings and after Labour MP Sarah Owen raised issues concerning the important allocation of funds for the refurbishment of the division’s places of work.
The MP for Luton South demanded that the Schooling Secretary make clear the reasoning behind the allocation, particularly in gentle of ongoing challenges confronted by faculties affected by strengthened autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).
She mentioned Ms Keegan needed to “get a grip and clarify why her places of work bought a £34 million refurbishment when faculties are crumbling underneath this Tory Authorities”.
Responding to the talk, Ms Keegan later mentioned: “£34 million is a Authorities constructing for the Division for Schooling that was signed off by the business director for the Division for Schooling, nothing to do with me, primarily based on a choice made in 2019 earlier than I used to be a minister.”
Requested concerning the refurbishment earlier this week, the Schooling Secretary advised Sky Information: “I don’t know, really. I didn’t. I haven’t finished it. Which places of work?”
When advised it was at her places of work, she added: “I do know that once I was final within the division, I used to be on a special flooring and I do know they’re refurbishing a few of them. I wasn’t concerned in that.”
Willmott Dixon Interiors is finishing up the work, which its web site says is it’s anticipated to be accomplished by autumn 2024.
In keeping with the inside development contractor, the mission will create a “extra trendy, sustainable and streamlined workplace setting that displays the division’s adoption of hybrid working practices”.
In his concluding remarks at Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer additionally touched upon the difficulty, saying: “Doesn’t it let you know all the pieces you could know that he’s joyful to spend tens of millions of taxpayers’ cash sprucing up Tory places of work, billions to make sure there may be not VAT on Tory college charges however he received’t carry a finger in terms of defending different folks’s faculties, different folks’s security, different folks’s youngsters?”
Tory MPs could possibly be heard rejecting the suggestion taxpayers’ money was spent on “Tory places of work”.
Mr Sunak replied: “I do know he comes right here along with his ready scripts however he hasn’t listened to a single truth on six questions concerning the report quantities of funding going into faculties, concerning the unimaginable reforms to schooling impacting essentially the most deprived youngsters in our society, a report we’re rightly pleased with.”
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