» Thursday, February 12, 2004


Asked to explain what was new about the Government's Building Schools for the Future initiative, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that what was new was the fifteen-year programme to address the problem of dilapidated school buildings. In 1997, the level of capital spending for schools had been £700m. By 2005, it would be £5.1bn. Of that, £2bn was being allocated to fourteen LEAs which would carry out a systematic programme of either rebuilding of refurbishing secondary schools in their areas. This meant that in fifteen years' time, every secondary school would be either new or as new. Asked if it was the capital spending that was new, the PMOS said no. The money had already been allocated. Today's announcement was outlining details about how the money was going to be spent. We wanted LEAs to move away from the mend-and-repair mentality of 1997 when £700m was all that had been possible to spend, to a systematic programme of rebuilding or rehabilitation.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

PM Speech/Education

The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) advised journalists that the Prime Minister would be making a speech this afternoon at the new Capital City Academy in Willesden. The key theme was the launch of the Building Schools for the Future initiative through which the Government planned to rebuild or refurbish every secondary school in England over the next fifteen years, as part of a capital spending programme which due to reach £5.1bn 2005. The first wave of the programme would involve fourteen LEAs sharing over £2bn (from the £5.1bn). Each one would be asked to come up with a systematic 'renewal plan' to overhaul their school buildings, moving away from the 'sticking plaster' approach of the past - fixing of a roof here or a broken window there - to a thorough going review of the size, character and number of schools locality by locality. In the plans, the LEAs would be asked to consider the scope for City Academies above the fifty three we wanted to see by 2007.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)


The PMOS advised journalists that the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) had submitted its recommendations on pay, to which the Prime Minister had published his response this morning. Simultaneous Written Ministerial Statement were also being made today by Geoff Hoon (Armed Forces), David Blunkett (Prison Service) and Paul Murphy (Prison Service, Northern Ireland). The main recommendations, which the Government accepted, were: an increase, from April 1 2004, of 2% to the pay ranges for each of the SCS pay bands; a range of performance related base pay awards from 0 to 9% - a minimum bonus payment of 3% of salary or £2,500, whichever was the higher, for those who qualified; an uplift to the Permanent Secretaries pay ranges resulting in a new range of £121,100 to £256,550; low performance would also be recognised with the bottom 5-10% of performers receiving awards of between 0% and 2% - i.e. a real terms pay cut.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Berlin Meeting

The PMOS informed journalists that the Prime Minister would be having a dinner/meeting with Chancellor Schroeder in Berlin later today. They would take the opportunity to discuss the IGC and foreign policy issues such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. They would also look ahead to next week's Trilateral summit in Berlin on 18 February, which would focus on EU economic reform in preparation for the EU Spring Summit in Brussels next month. The PMOS reminded journalists that the UK, France and Germany had also produced a joint paper ahead of the Spring Summit last year. Asked if the Prime Minister was also intending to hold a bilateral with President Chirac in Paris, the PMOS said that he was not aware of any plans for him to do so at this stage.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Immigration/Morecambe Bay

Questioned about the warning the Home Office had received last year about the cockle-pickers at Morecambe Bay, the PMOS said that as the Immigration Service had made clear, it had referred only to one operation. Both the Immigration Service and the police had been involved in other operations in the Morecambe Bay area, including one in August 2003. Consequently, the assumption that they had been ignoring the problem was false.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

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