The department supports the removal of asbestos from schools, where it is safe and appropriate to do so, through its capital funding schemes.
We are spending £1.4 billion to improve the condition of the school estate in financial year 2015 to 2016. The majority of this £1.4 billion (over £950 million) goes directly to schools and those responsible for them, and it is for them to decide how to use this funding to address their needs, including to manage and remove asbestos where appropriate. The legal responsibility for managing asbestos in schools rests with local authorities, academy trusts, governing bodies and other duty holders and so we rightly provide them with the flexibility to use their funding to carry out this duty.
The remainder of the £1.4 billion goes through the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF), which provides more than £430 million to address the condition needs of academies in small multi-academy trusts and single academy trusts, as well as sixth-form colleges. This includes funding projects that remove asbestos from schools, as well as projects that will encapsulate asbestos, rather than removing it.
In addition, where schools are being refurbished or rebuilt by the department as part of the Priority School Building Programmes, through which we will invest around £4bn, the costs of any asbestos management work, including removing it – where that is appropriate – are being met by the department. We do not make a specific allowance for asbestos works in a scheme. This is managed alongside other site risks. We allow 17% of the capital cost of a scheme for these risks and a central contingency is held for exceptional cases. This spending is often incorporated into the wider costs associated with demolition or refurbishment work.