£500m of innovative new investment for next phase of 21st Century Schools

Finance and Government Business Minister Jane Hutt has announced £500 million of innovative new investment for the next phase of the 21st Century Schools Programme, starting in 2019.

The 21st Century School Programme is designed to deliver the Welsh Government’s vision of providing a first-class education in world class settings to all learners in Wales.

Speaking during a plenary debate on the Draft Budget 2015-16, the Minister confirmed the £500m investment would be made using the Non-profit Distributing (NPD) investment model, adding to an NPD pipeline in Wales that already includes redevelopment of the Velindre cancer centre, and dualling of sections 5 and 6 of the A465. The next phase of the 21st Century Schools Programme – Band B – will begin following the completion of Band A in 2018-19.

This new investment in the 21st Century Schools Programme is in addition to the £170m of innovative funding through the Local Government Borrowing Initiative, which is already accelerating the delivery of Band A of the Programme by two years.

On Monday (17 November), Finance Minister and Education Minister visited Penarth Learning Community which has received £33.3m of Welsh Government funding. The Learning Community comprises two newly built schools with a special educational needs facility.

Jane Hutt said:

“This is a significant investment which demonstrates how as a Government we are committed to providing the best learning environment for our young people. Our 21st Century Schools Programme is delivering state of the art, modern centres of learning and I was particularly pleased to visit the impressive Penarth Learning Community to see how they have benefitted from capital investment.

“The next phase of the 21st Century Schools programme will commence from 2019 and work will now begin to plan and prepare this second phase of investment, which will see half a billion pounds raised using the NPD model. We will continue to work with Local Authorities and the WLGA to ensure that we achieve the outcomes we all want – to continue to improve the quality of learning environments while achieving greater economy from the use of our assets.”

Education Minister, Huw Lewis said:

“Our 21st Century Schools programme is already delivering real benefits for learners right across Wales and this additional £500m will enable us to do even more to improve the school experience.

“Such a significant investment in the current challenging financial climate, demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing the right  environments and  the best possible standard of education for our learners and to putting their welfare right at the heart of our decision making.”

During the plenary debate, the Finance Minister highlighted how prevention and early intervention are at the heart of the Welsh Government’s spending plans for 2015-16. The Minister also highlighted the importance of addressing the funding of Wales.

Jane Hutt added:

“Every year the choices we face become more difficult and will continue to be so as austerity continues into the medium term. That is why it is essential that the funding of Wales is considered urgently – as was agreed by all Parties in the Assembly.  Our unanimous vote in favour of the motion calling for talks on fair funding to begin immediately, with the goal of securing rapid implementation of a funding floor, has sent a clear and unified message.  I look forward to progressing those talks with the UK Government.”