Builders 'struggling' in £45bn schools project

The Government's £45bn programme to refurbish or rebuild every secondary school in the country could grind to a halt because of the economic downturn, MPs have warned. Graham Watts, chief executive of the Construction Industry Council, told the Commons Select Committee monitoring schools, that there was a danger that "this promising move and accelerating programme could come to a full stop" if the private sector could not stomp up enough cash to loan to contractors to continue the work.

England's 3,500 state secondary schools will all either be built or refurbished by 2020 under the Building Schools for the Future programme, funded by the public finance initiative. This means contractors have to be lent the cash to do the work, then recoup it through mortgage-style repayments from schools or councils. But, Mr Watts said several firms were "struggling to raise the private capital they require because of the problems of liquidity we have in our banking system".