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'Schools have been allowed to wither': James O'Brien criticises Sunak's refusal to fund concrete safety repairs
4 September 2023, 12:17 | Updated: 7 September 2023, 11:31
James O'Brien condemns PM for 'deliberate refusal' to fund building to fix unsafe schools
James O'Brien condemns Rishi Sunak's decision to donate millions of dollars to his American college, as hundreds of schools crumble.
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James O'Brien delivered this monologue as schools in England remain in the dark over the concrete crisis as pupils prepare to return to school this week.
He began by blasting Rishi Sunak for his handling funds for fixing schools during his time as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
James said: "Not only did he say no, he actually reduced the amount that had previously been available."
James explained how Mr Sunak donated $3 million (£2,374,425) to the $86,600 (£68,455.6) a year college he and his wife had attended in America.
He said: "So, he can already find 3 million bucks of his own money for a computer lab in an already lavishly funded college in California but when charged with looking after British children and protecting them from falling concrete, the answer came there none" - that's the politics of it."
The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, is set to appear in the Commons on Monday to make an emergency statement addressing the issue.
She is expected to face renewed demands to publish a full list of the schools affected as the Commons returns from its summer recess.
But fears remain that “thousands” more buildings could still be at risk of collapse from the crumbling concrete.
Mr Hunt has so far refused to say how many buildings were affected by the crisis, adding he did not want to “speculate” as he denied claims that austerity measures were responsible.
James continued: "I find it hard to believe, actually, that schools have been allowed to wither in this way.
"I can begin to imagine what it would be like to discover today that the then Chancellor of the Exchequer personally took the decision to not fix the schools that are now being closed or disrupted because of the risk of concrete."
Phillipson says Government 'not been upfront about scale' of concrete crisis
Labour's Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson told LBC the government's response has been "completely unacceptable", urging the government to release a full list of affected schools.