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Latest 09 November 2023

As schools crumble, Tory donor’s company lands £11.5m contract

Islandstock / Alamy Stock Photo

Government failure has left children at risk from failing concrete. Now a company owned by a Tory donor is set to clean up.

A firm owned by a Tory donor has bagged an £11.5m contract to supply temporary classrooms for schools built with unsafe concrete.

The Department of Education has asked Wernick Buildings Limited to provide “temporary accommodation and associated services to mitigate schools disruption due to rebuilding, condition and refurbishment programmes”.

The company is controlled by David Wernick, who has given more than £71,000 to the Tories either through his companies or in a personal capacity between 2001 and 2021. More than half this amount – £42,000 – has been donated since 2019.

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This contract comes on top of an £18.6m Government contract Wernick Buildings landed in 2020 – just weeks after a donation of £10,000 – to supply site infrastructure, maintenance and servicing for Covid testing sites, as well as other contracts totalling £546,000 for storing unusable PPE we exposed earlier this week.

Latest figures show that at least 214 educational settings were built in the second half of the 20th century with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete, which is now at risk of sudden failure.

Back in 2010, the Education Secretary Michael Gove scrapped the previous Labour administration’s £55bn Building Schools for the Future programme. According to Schools Week, this policy would have seen every secondary school rebuilt by this year.

“It’s outrageous that a Tory donor’s company is set to benefit from Ministers’ scandalous failure to stop our schools from crumbling,” said Ellie Mae O’Hagan, Head of Engagement at Good Law Project. “As schoolchildren are being forced into portable cabins this winter, Tory donors are lining their pockets.”

The Department for Education told the Daily Mirror that the Government “will spend whatever it takes to ensure children are safe in school”.

The department is working to remove the failing concrete from schools and colleges, a spokesperson said, through capital grants and rebuilding projects, “including through the School Rebuilding Programme”.

The Daily Mirror also approached Wernick Buildings for comment.

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