DfE spent £111m on offices it won't inhabit

The Department for Education has spent £111 million to refurbish new offices it has no plans to move into.

Schools Week revealed in 2017 that the department’s planned move to the Old Admiralty Buildings in Whitehall, from its current base in Sanctuary Buildings, had been shelved indefinitely.

The move, first proposed in 2014, was to save the DfE £19 million a year.

BAM Construct UK was initially appointed to undertake a £50 million renovation, including a new gym for staff and an art gallery, but the work had not started when Schools Week inquired almost two years ago.

Now it has emerged that “ongoing” work to refurbish the offices, which was previously the home of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has cost more than double BAM’s original contract and far more than the £63 million spent ahead of the FCO’s arrival in 2001.

Work is due to be completed this summer, and the building will then house “other government bodies”, the DfE said.

However, although the £111 million came from DfE budgets, it is understood the money was sent by the Treasury. The cash was for the specific purpose of readying the new premises and therefore does not leave the department short.

The total refurbishment cost was revealed after a freedom of information request from Schools Week.