Jeremy Hunt has vowed that the government will "spend what it takes" to make schools at risk of collapse from reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) material safe.
The Chancellor attempted to reassure parents of the situation ahead of the return to the classroom for millions of children next week. He told BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg that an "exhaustive process" is underway to identify any at-risk buildings.
When asked about how much the project to replace those buildings deemed at-risk would be, Hunt said he would not speculate on figures, telling the programme: “We will spend what it takes to make sure children can go to school safely."
He also defended Education Secretary Gillian Keegan after the government was criticised for not failing to act quickly on the situation despite risks being raised as far back as 2018. Hunt said that Keegan had "acted immediately" after receiving new information about the potential collapse risk posed by the concrete building material which was commonly used in construction from 1950s to the 1990s.
Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza also appeared on the BBC Sunday morning politics show, stating that the had the government acted quicker, “we shouldn’t even have been in this situation".
She added: “There should have been planning in place and a really good school building programme that has addressed this over the years.
"Is it really the least to ask to say that we want safe, fit-for-purpose buildings? There’s not enough money in there and it’s not moving quick enough.”
It comes as it was reported that more than 100 schools and colleges have been told that they would have to fully or partially shut one or more of their buildings. Labour is pushing for a full list of schools affected to be released by the government.
Shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: “I can think of no more a defining image of 13 years of Tory Government (than) children being sat in classrooms under metal props to prevent ceilings from falling on their heads.”