Select Committee on Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Seventh Report


Letter from the Department for Education and Skills to the Clerk of the Committee

The Draft Regulatory Reform (Voluntary Aided Schools Liabilities and Funding) (England) Order 2002

The Department has given further consideration to the point brought to its attention by Alan Preston, in connection with the issue raised by Mr Flood. It relates to the proposed amendments, at Article 7(d) in our draft Order, to paragraph 5(5) of Schedule 3 to the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.

We can appreciate the concern that Mr Flood, and the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee, may have in relation to the apparent removal of the priority given to 'repairs' to school buildings. I outlined in my previous letter why we believe that it is no longer appropriate to refer to 'repairs' in this context, but I do consider that it is appropriate to give an assurance that the Department would continue to give priority for payment of grant in the circumstances outlined in our proposals. Those circumstances are (in summary):

a)    to make such alterations as are required to secure conformity with the standards prescribed under section 542 of the Education Act 1996; or

b)  to comply with health and safety legislation.

I can give that assurance. This is in line with the agreement given by Ministers and the Project Board, in response to consultation, to the retention of the principles of the existing legislation, albeit with modifications.

It might also be helpful for me to indicate that, under existing legislation, the circumstances in which we would pay grant at less than 85% are rare. It can sometimes be appropriate in the case of a new school proposed for entry into the maintained (VA) sector but, thereafter, grant is paid at the standard rate as a matter of course. Even during periods when the VA capital baseline was very much lower than at present, stakeholders were content that grant should be paid at the standard rate for capital projects, with the provisions of the existing paragraph 5(5) of Schedule 3 applying as appropriate. As you are aware, under the current arrangements, the rate of grant in these circumstances is 85%; under our proposals it would be a minimum of 90%.


1 March 2002

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 8 March 2002