HC Deb 01 March 1994 vol 238 c689W
27. Mr. Thurnham

To ask the Secretary of State for Education what is the latest estimate he has for the amount of money being tied up in maintaining surplus school places; and what steps he is taking to reduce the number of surplus places.

Mr. Forth

In 1991, when the Department carried out a detailed survey, there were 1.3 million surplus school places. The premises-related costs of maintaining this number of school places are estimated at around £300 million. The scope for realising savings in practice, however, depends on local circumstances.

We are discussing with individual authorities the scope for rationalisation in their areas. From 1 April this year the Education Act 1993 gives the Secretary of State the power to require authorities to bring forward proposals to take spare places out of use.