31 July 2010 | Angeline Albert
EU procurement rules have made the tendering of school building more expensive, according to the UK education secretary.
Michael Gove made his remarks at a cross-party Commons education select committee meeting, where he was questioned about his decision to scrap the £55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme (BSF).
“It is certainly the case that EU procurement rules add delay and cost to the process of procuring schools,” he said.
He told the committee he agreed with Tim Byles, chief executive of Partnerships for Schools, when he said BSF faced bureaucracy and waste because of EU procurement rules.
Tim Byles had informed the committee money was wasted on commissioning several designs for a new school building to ensure local authorities had options to choose from. This meant designs were fully worked up but could be binned.
“While EU procurement rules are certainly a burden it is also the case that there are other things that we can do in order to lower the cost of schools,” Byles said.
Gove told the committee: “We can procure schools much more cheaply than has been the case in the past.”
In an effort to do so, the minister said he has looked at Sweden and other EU countries that can procure schools at a significantly lower cost.
The minister said: “The whole procurement model meant that everyone had to sink a huge amount of cost into the process before bricks were laid.” The education secretary said up to £10 million was being spent in the procurement process on setting up a local education partnership followed another process of procurement which resulted in duplication.
Gove said a greater degree of standardisation in the procurement of schools could lower costs and achieve greener buildings.