Building Schools safe, Balls insists

Building Schools for the Future will not be cut if Labour wins the next election, the Schools Secretary has said.

“We will not deny school leavers the college and apprenticeship places they need, or cut our school building programme to pay for an unfair and unfunded free market education experiment – that’s [Tory shadow schools secretary] Michael Gove’s plan,” Ed Balls told Labour's conference in Brighton.

The news comes in contrast to indications earlier this week that the hospital building programme could be cut to pay for more care for the young and elderly.

However, commentators suggested cuts to the health capital budget could actually help PFI, by increasing the attractiveness of its off-balance-sheet status.

"Cutting the capital budget – which does not include PFI, which is funded from revenue – is likely to increase the incentive to use PFI," said Edinburgh University academic Mark Hellowell.

A "raid" on capital to plug a gap in revenue budgets would mirror government policies of the early 1990s, which had given rise to PFI in the first place, he added.