Schools Hit with High Maintenance Charges for Playing-Field Grass


Schools Forced to Pay Thousands to Maintain Short Grass

Schools across the UK are facing hefty maintenance charges to ensure that the grass on their playing fields remains under an inch high. These charges are a result of private finance initiative (PFI) contracts that were used to construct school buildings. One school in Liverpool, for example, is required to pay thousands of pounds each year to keep its grass below 2.5cm due to a finance agreement negotiated years ago.

PFI Contracts Put Financial Strain on Schools

According to David Potter, the head of Middlefield Primary School, nearly 20% of their budget is allocated to meeting the increasing obligations of PFI contracts, which cover areas such as catering, maintenance, and cleaning. Potter expressed frustration, stating that the school should have the freedom to decide whether or not they need to maintain the grass to such a specific height.

PFI Contracts Tied to Inflation-Linked Maintenance Deals

PFI contracts, which were introduced in 1992 and scrapped in 2018, have tied schools into long-term maintenance deals that are linked to inflation. These contracts will remain in effect until the taxpayer debt is fully repaid. Critics argue that more care needs to be taken when negotiating and signing these deals to avoid unnecessary financial burdens on schools and taxpayers.

Government Pledges Support for PFI Schools

The Department for Education has announced that it will be increasing support for PFI schools by 10.4%. This move aims to alleviate some of the financial pressures faced by schools as a result of these contracts.

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