Pressure mounts on Sunak and Keegan over school concrete crisis

Logo The GuardianThe Guardian
2023-09-04 18:09:49  • 5 mins

The school buildings crisis is threatening to engulf Downing Street, with Rishi Sunak accused of slashing the budget for repairs while his education secretary was caught claiming colleagues had done nothing to stop it.

As pupils began returning to schools around England on Monday or in some cases took lessons from home or in temporary classrooms the prime minister faced claims he failed to grasp the gravity of the situation as chancellor.

Former Department for Education (DfE) officials said staff in the department were shocked when a request to fund work on 300 to 400 schools at risk from crumbling concrete panels was pared down, to 100 and then 50, by Sunaks Treasury in 2020 and 2021.

As No 10 pushed back against the claims, Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, was forced to apologise after she was caught complaining to a TV reporter that others with responsibility for school repairs had sat on their arse rather than act.

The unguarded comments were made when the cameras continued rolling after a formal interview was over, with Keegan asking grumpily: Does anyone ever say: You know what, youve done a fucking good job, because everyone else has sat on their arse and done nothing. No signs of that, no?

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