As it happenedended1694012153

Schools concrete crisis: Starmer attacks Sunak’s Tory ‘cowboys’ as full list of closures revealed

Prime minister ‘makes no apology’ for Raac decisions as Labour asks if he is ‘ashamed’ over crisis caused by 13 years of ‘botched jobs’

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Wednesday 06 September 2023 15:55 BST
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Expert explains why Raac is more dangerous than standard concrete

Sir Keir Starmer has blamed the crumbling concrete crisis on “cutting corners” and “sticking plaster politics” as he grilled the prime minister in PMQs today.

The Labour leader: “It’s the sort thing you expect from cowboy builders saying everyone else is wrong, everyone is to blame, protesting that they’re doing an effing good job even if the ceiling falls in – except in this case the cowboys are running this country.”

He added: “Isn’t he ashamed that after 13 years children are cowering under steel supports, stopping their classroom roof falling in.”

Rishi Sunak said he was not sorry for the decision to close around 100 of the 156 schools with Raac, saying he would “make no apology for acting decisively in the light of new information”.

It comes as the Department for Education has published a full list of the schools affected with Raac in England.

Are you a parent whose child has been affected by RAAC closures? E-mail alexander.butler@independent.co.uk

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‘Vast majority of schools not affected’- Sunak

Rishi Sunak has said “the vast majority” of schools will not be affected by Raac as the first questions about the concrete crisis have hit the PM.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:06
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‘Get your facts straight,’ Sunak tells Starmer

Rishi Sunak has responded to Sir Keir Starmer’s challenge that Tory cuts have led to the concrete crisis in schools today.

The prime minister said: “Far from cutting budgets, the amount spent last year was the highest in a decade.

“That spending review maintained the school rebuilding programme.”

Of the Labour leader, the prime minister said: “Before he jumps on the next political bandwagon, he should get his facts straight.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:09
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‘13 years of botched jobs’ led to crumbling concrete

The Labour leader said the concrete crisis is “the inevitable result of 13 years of cutting corners” and “botched jobs”.

Sir Keir Starmer said: “It’s the sort of job you would expect from cowboy builders,” adding: “The cowboys are running the country.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:12
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Government acted ‘decisively’ on school concrete crisis

The prime minister has insisted that his government has acted “decisively” in the “receipt of new information” regarding the concrete crisis in schools.

It comes as the Department of Education has published a full list of schools affected by Raac in England this afternoon.

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:14
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Sunak should be ‘ashamed’ that ‘cowboys are running the country’, says Starmer

Keir Starmer said the crumbling concrete crisis was the “inevitable result of 13 years of cutting corners, botched jobs and sticking plaster politics”.

The Labour leader said: “It’s the sort thing you expect from cowboy builders saying everyone else is wrong, everyone is to blame, protesting that they’re doing an effing good job even if the ceiling falls in – except in this case the cowboys are running this country.”

He added: “Isn’t he ashamed that after 13 years children are cowering under steel supports, stopping their classroom roof falling in.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:17
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‘List took too long to publish’- Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Munira Wilson said: “The Conservative government should never have taken this long to publish this list, while parents were plunged into uncertainty over whether their child’s school is safe.

“Rishi Sunak must now come clean over his own role in this crisis and publish the full evidence that officials provided to him as chancellor on the risks to children’s safety from crumbling school buildings.

“Sunak and his Conservative ministers have ducked responsibility and blamed everyone but themselves for this fiasco.

“Families deserve to know the truth instead of this endless smoke and mirrors.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:20
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Watch: ‘We make no apology for acting decisively’- Sunak responds to RAAC criticism

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said “we make no apology for acting decisively in the face of new information” as he faced criticism about reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac) in schools at Prime Minister’s Questions.

PMQs: ‘We make no apology for acting decisively’ Sunak responds to RAAC criticism
Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:23
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Sunak says he understands parents’ concerns but ‘makes no apology’ for Raac decisions

Rishi Sunak said he was not sorry for the decision to close around 100 of the 156 schools with Raac.

The PM said he would “make no apology for acting decisively in the light of new information”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “The roof of Singlewell Primary School in Gravesend collapsed in May 2018. Thankfully it happened at the weekend and no children were injured. The concrete ceiling was deemed dangerous and liable to collapse, and everyone knew the problem existed in other schools.

“Yet the prime minister decided to halve the budget for school maintenance just a couple of years later. Does he agree with his Education Secretary (Gillian Keegan) that he should be thanked for doing a good job?”

Mr Sunak said: “I know how concerned parents, children and teachers are, and I want to start by assuring them that the government is doing everything it can to fix this quickly and minimise the disruption to children’s education.

“We make no apology for acting decisively in the face of new information... Of the 22,000 schools in England the vast, vast majority won’t be affected. In fact, in two-thirds of inspections of suspected schools, Raac is not actually present.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:25
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Sunak says Labour’s school rebuilding programme is ‘time-consuming and expensive'

Rishi Sunak has branded Labour’s school rebuilding programme as “time-consuming and expensive”.

His comments came after Sir Keir Starmer asked him in the Commons: “Carmel College in Darlington was on the Labour’s building list in 2010. They scrapped it and now children there are in a crumbling school.

“And on the one hand, we have him saying it’s nothing to do with him, on the other side, we have the facts and there is a simple way to clear this up: why doesn’t he commit to publish the requests from the Department of Education for the school rebuilding programme and what risks he was warned of before he turned them down?”

The Prime Minister replied: “He has now brought up twice the Labour schools rebuilding programme. So let’s just look at that and look at the facts surrounding that because we do know the truth about that programme because the NAO (National Audit Office)... actually reviewed that programme later on, what did they find? They found that Labour school rebuilding programme actually excluded 80% of schools.”

The Prime Minister went on to say the NAO also found the programme was “a third more expensive than it needed to be” and “only allocated funds solely on the basis of ideology with no regard whatsoever to the physical condition of schools”.

He added: “That’s why the independent James review described that programme as time-consuming and expensive, just like the Labour Party.”

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:31
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The full list of schools affected by Raac concrete

The government has published the full list of schools so far identified to be affected by Raac concrete.

The list, published just 30 minutes before Rishi Sunak faced the Commons, includes 147 schools so far.

But the number of buildings is expected to swell as more assessments are coming out.

See the full list here:

The full list of schools affected by Raac concrete

The list of 147 schools is expected to grow

Maryam Zakir-Hussain6 September 2023 12:48

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