UK

‘Utterly wrong’ to blame decisions as chancellor on crumbling schools – PM

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has dismissed claims he failed to fully fund a program to rebuild schools in England (Alberto Pezzali/PA).
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has dismissed claims he failed to fully fund a program to rebuild schools in England (Alberto Pezzali/PA). Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has dismissed claims he failed to fully fund a program to rebuild schools in England (Alberto Pezzali/PA).

Rishi Sunak has defended himself against accusations he failed to fully fund a programme to rebuild England’s schools, claiming the suggestion is “completely and utterly wrong”.

The Prime Minister on Monday dismissed claims about his record as chancellor made by a former senior official at the Department for Education.

Jonathan Slater, who was permanent secretary at the Department for Education from May 2016 to August 2020, claimed the Treasury had failed to support school rebuilding schemes – including while Mr Sunak was chancellor.

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Mr Slater said he was “absolutely amazed” that a decision was made after he left the department to halve the school rebuilding programme.

But Mr Sunak told broadcasters: “I think that is completely and utterly wrong. Actually one of the first things I did as chancellor, in my first spending review in 2020, was to announce a new 10-year school re-building programme for 500 schools.

“Now that equates to about 50 schools a year, that will be refurbished or rebuilt.

“If you look at what we have been doing over the previous decade, that’s completely in line with what we have always done.”