The choice to spend £34 million to revamp the Division for Training’s headquarters had “nothing to do with me”, the Training Secretary has stated.
Gillian Keegan distanced herself from any involvement within the decision-making course of surrounding the refurbishment mission, insisting the choice had been made previous to her appointment as a minister and was authorised by the business director throughout the division.
Her feedback got here throughout Labour’s opposition day debate within the Commons on the protection of faculty buildings and after Labour MP Sarah Owen raised issues in regards to the vital allocation of funds for the refurbishment of the division’s workplaces.
The MP for Luton South demanded that the Training Secretary make clear the reasoning behind the allocation, particularly in mild of ongoing challenges confronted by faculties affected by bolstered autoclaved aerated concrete (Raac).
She stated Ms Keegan needed to “get a grip and clarify why her workplaces obtained a £34 million refurbishment when faculties are crumbling underneath this Tory Authorities”.
Responding to the controversy, Ms Keegan later stated: “£34 million is a Authorities constructing for the Division for Training that was signed off by the business director for the Division for Training, nothing to do with me, primarily based on a choice made in 2019 earlier than I used to be a minister.”
Requested in regards to the refurbishment earlier this week, the Training Secretary informed Sky Information: “I don’t know, really. I didn’t. I haven’t carried out it. Which workplaces?”
When informed it was at her workplaces, she added: “I do know that once I was final within the division, I used to be on a special ground and I do know they’re refurbishing a few of them. I wasn’t concerned in that.”
Willmott Dixon Interiors is finishing up the work, which its web site says is it’s anticipated to be accomplished by autumn 2024.
In keeping with the inside building contractor, the mission will create a “extra trendy, sustainable and streamlined workplace surroundings that displays the division’s adoption of hybrid working practices”.
In his concluding remarks at Prime Minister’s Questions, Sir Keir Starmer additionally touched upon the difficulty, saying: “Doesn’t it let you know every little thing you must know that he’s comfortable to spend tens of millions of taxpayers’ cash sprucing up Tory workplaces, billions to make sure there’s not VAT on Tory college charges however he gained’t raise a finger with regards to defending different individuals’s faculties, different individuals’s security, different individuals’s youngsters?”
Tory MPs may very well be heard rejecting the suggestion taxpayers’ money was spent on “Tory workplaces”.
Mr Sunak replied: “I do know he comes right here along with his ready scripts however he hasn’t listened to a single reality on six questions in regards to the report quantities of funding going into faculties, in regards to the unbelievable reforms to training impacting probably the most deprived youngsters in our society, a report we’re rightly happy with.”