Industry RAAC panel failed to meet DfE after forming

The Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) response group did not meet the Department for Education (DfE) last year, Construction News can reveal.

The CLC announced on 6 September last year that it would establish a technical expert panel to support the UK Government and building owners in dealing with the collapse-risk concrete.

But despite the toll of the RAAC crisis falling largely on schools and colleges, the panel had not met with the DfE as of 3 January this year, the department said in response to a Freedom of Information Act inquiry.

When asked, a representative from the CLC was unable to confirm whether or not the panel has now met with the DfE.

They said: “The CLC RAAC [panel] engages colleagues across Whitehall on an evolving basis, as and when appropriate, to explore specific policy issues.”

In January, the CLC posted a list of 47 experts who were members of its RAAC Industry Response Group as of 25 September 2023. The list does not feature any representatives from the DfE.

Among the panel members are representatives from other government departments, including the Department for Business and Trade, Department for Health and Social Care, and the Cabinet Office.

The list also includes experts from several industry trade bodies, the Health and Safety Executive, the Local Government Association and the University of Loughborough.

The extent of RAAC in the state school estate has been in the spotlight since the DfE told 104 schools in September last years – just days before the start of the school year – to vacate buildings containing the risky material.

The DfE committed earlier this month to fund remediation works in all 234 schools and colleges with buildings confirmed to contain RAAC. The department has not yet provided details on when schools are likely to receive funding or how much it will provide.

The CLC said in September that its RAAC panel would assess the existing risks of RAAC, then support the design and delivery of remediation programmes in the public sector estate.

The panel is coordinated by Construction Industry Council chief executive Graham Watts, who also co-leads the CLC’s building-safety workstream.

The DfE did not respond to a request for comment.

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