Rishi Sunak has defended himself against accusations he failed to fully fund a programme to rebuild England’s schools, claiming the suggestion is “completely and utterly wrong”.
The Prime Minister on Monday dismissed claims about his record as chancellor made by a former senior official at the Department for Education.
Jonathan Slater, who was permanent secretary at the Department for Education from May 2016 to August 2020, claimed the Treasury had failed to support school rebuilding schemes – including while Mr Sunak was chancellor.
Mr Slater said he was “absolutely amazed” that a decision was made after he left the department to halve the school rebuilding programme.
But Mr Sunak told broadcasters: “I think that is completely and utterly wrong. Actually one of the first things I did as chancellor, in my first spending review in 2020, was to announce a new 10-year school re-building programme for 500 schools.
“Now that equates to about 50 schools a year, that will be refurbished or rebuilt.
“If you look at what we have been doing over the previous decade, that’s completely in line with what we have always done.”
Mr Sunak said that 95% of schools would not be affected by the issue.
He also said that there will be “extra money” for schools, but failed to say whether it could come from the Treasury or Department for Education.
“The Chancellor has been crystal clear that schools will be given extra money for these mitigations. It won’t come from their existing school budgets,” the Prime Minister said.
“There will be extra money to the schools, so the school budget won’t be impacted by this. They will be given the extra money to deal with the mitigations.”
He added: “In our expectation, 95% of schools won’t be impacted by this.”
That would suggest that ministers may have concerns regarding around 1,100 school sites.