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BSF projects climb on back of election uncertainty

Microscope contributor

Some Local Education Authorities (LEAs) have brought forward Building Schools for the Future projects amid concerns about potential changes to the programme next year when a new Government is elected.

There are around 3,500 secondary schools and roughly 150 LEAs in England, 85 of which are currently engaged in BSF - launched in 2004 - with another 12 projects expected to come online before the end of this fiscal year.

Mark Chambers, CEO at Nottingham-based education reseller Ramesys - which has £200m worth of contracts in the pipeline - said that the "market has really ramped".

"Part of that is the uncertainty of what any new Government might do in terms of changing the procurement process or slowing it down," he told MicroScope.

A National Audit Office report issued in February this year estimated that the BSF scheme will cost £55bn and the last of the regeneration projects is due to be completed by 2023.

Yolanta Gill, CEO at education specialists European Electronique, also noted the uncertainty in the market as the general election looms.

"The Academy framework could be the preferred model [for the Tories] going forward so we don't know [what might happen to BSF], it may be scaled back or changed completely or we may have a Labour Government," she said.

In full fiscal 2009 prelims filed earlier this week, RM said it delivered IT to 28 BSF projects this year, but reckoned it would deliver 70% more next year. It has an order book for BSF projects worth £445m, a 40% market share. 

A spokesman at RM agreed that if the Conservative party does get into power there could be a change in policy in favour of the Academy system, "so we are bidding for those as well".

As a delivery agency, PfS said it was unable to comment in detail on future Government spending plans.

"All the major political parties recognise the need to invest in the school's estate, but it is too early to say what these plans will mean for individual capital programmes," said a spokesman at PfS.

 

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