Latest News  Lack of earmarked Government funding to tackle school asbestos ‘appalling’ - Shropshire Star

Lack of earmarked Government funding to tackle school asbestos ‘appalling’ - Shropshire Star

Lack of earmarked Government funding to tackle school asbestos ‘appalling’

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The lack of earmarked funding to make schools free from the “scourge” of asbestos is “appalling”, unions have said.

The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) said it was shocking the UK Government has still not required lower control levels and limits for long-term environmental exposure to asbestos.

The JUAC – a trade union campaigning committee comprising eight unions – said the Government knows there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos and children are far more likely to develop the cancer mesothelioma after exposure than adults.

Earlier this week the Department for Education reopened its Asbestos Management Assurance Process which asks school employers to say whether they are compliant with the asbestos management regulations.

According to the JUAC, delays to the project mean the findings, now not due until spring next year, may not come in time to properly influence next year’s spending review.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “This is totally unacceptable.

“We already know that nearly 90% of schools contain asbestos and that as asbestos ages, it deteriorates and becomes more difficult to manage.

“There is already plenty of evidence about poor standards of asbestos management across many local authorities and academy trusts.

“What we urgently need is earmarked funding to make our schools safe from this scourge.”

The JUAC said it is appalling there is no earmarked funding for asbestos removal and encapsulation.

Asbestos can be found in wall panels, ceiling tiles, floors, fire breaks, columns, door frames, and ceiling and wall voids.

But it can also creep into classrooms and corridors if it is disturbed, such as through having children crashing into affected areas.

Figures suggest that between 200 and 300 adults are estimated to die every year because of asbestos exposure as a school pupil, the NEU says.

It also says the data shows increasing numbers of teachers and school staff are dying from mesothelioma because they were exposed to asbestos while working in schools.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said:  “Since 2015, we have already allocated £5.6 billion to those responsible for school buildings for essential maintenance, including for the removal of asbestos when it is the safest course of action. In addition to this, asbestos is a factor in choosing which schools to re-build through the Priority School Building Programme.

“We have extended the Asbestos Management Assurance Process to give more schools the chance to respond. This data will help the department develop a greater understanding of the management of asbestos in schools.”

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