Why unsafe asbestos could still be in schools in 2050

The Public Accounts Committee recently heard evidence that schools were receiving insufficient funds to restore their buildings to a satisfactory condition. The National Audit Office Report on school capital funding noted that the DfE’s property data survey specifically did not assess the extent and condition of asbestos throughout the school estate.

The Public Accounts Committee therefore recommended that ’The Department should set out a plan by December 2017 for how it will fill gaps in its knowledge about the school estate in areas not covered by the property data survey. Specifically, it needs to understand the prevalence, condition and management of asbestos, and know more about the general suitability and safety of school buildings’.

JUAC welcomes this recommendation because this data can inform the prioritisation and funding process required in order to establish a phased removal of all asbestos in schools by 2028, as recommended by the APPG for occupational safety and health. However, this report cautions that the current criteria for assessing asbestos condition are not effective in up to half our schools and provides evidence that current funding is insufficient for the removal of all the most dangerous asbestos let alone the recommended eradication of all asbestos in schools by 2028.

The full report is available here.