School maintenance funding ‘a matter of urgency’, says roofing industry

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school maintenance, roofing industry,
© Joy Fera

A group of roofing and cladding trade associations have written to the education secretary calling for school maintenance funding to be ‘a matter of urgency’

Ten trade associations representing the roofing and cladding industry have written to the secretary of state for education, urging him to announce the outcome of applications to the 2020/21 Condition Improvement Fund for school maintenance, worth more than £400m, ‘as a matter of urgency’.

The fund, which is used by thousands of schools, colleges and academies each year to pay for essential repair and maintenance work, was expected to be announced in April but was delayed due to the impact of Covid-19.

Therefore, schools are still waiting to hear the outcome of their applications.

School maintenance provides an essential area of work for roofing contractors, as well as the manufacturers who supply the materials. The group says the delayed announcement has created unnecessary uncertainty about future workloads.

The roofing industry is urging on the education secretary to announce the funding now, to provide enough time to set up for the start of the summer holidays and give a ‘quick and easy’ way to stimulate demand in the construction industry, as we come out of lockdown.

The group says that if the education secretary made the announcement now, he could help save many firms and jobs in the sector.

Government ‘missing a trick’

Chief executive of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC), James Talman, said: “The government is looking for ‘shovel ready’ projects to help boost the construction industry, but they are missing a trick right under their nose – the delayed Condition Improvement Fund.

“This would provide a government stimulus of over £400m on thousands of school, college and academy repair and maintenance projects, yet, we are still waiting to hear who has been successful, months later.”

Talman added: “At this time of year, roofing contractors would usually be preparing to work on schools and colleges over the summer holidays, but this year they have been left high and dry due to the delayed announcement.

“This couldn’t have come at a worse time, with construction industry output plummeting by 40% during lockdown and many roofers now wondering where their next job will come from.

“This decision impacts not only contractors but also on the wider supply chain, with many manufacturers uncertain of how much demand there will be later this year. In times of downturn, public sector investment should be a priority, not delayed.”

He concluded: “We are not asking for extra funding or even fast-tracking of funding, but simply for the announcement to be made, so our industry can get to work.

“We urge the secretary of state to give successful applications the green light as a matter of urgency, and by doing so, he may save many jobs in the process.”

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