§ 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.