Concrete crisis: DWP confirms status of its RAAC-affected buildings

Departments are surveying their sites to check if they have ageing RAAC after schools were closed over collapse risk
Photo: Blue Train Photography/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

14 Sep 2023

The Department for Work and Pensions has three buildings in its estate with the crumbling concrete that has caused a school-buildings crisis this month, the department has confirmed.  

A survey undertaken by the department in 2020-21 identified four sites within the DWP estate containing Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) planks. Social mobility minister Mims Davies confirmed in June that one of these has since been sold.

Of the three which are still part of the estate, one is empty, another is in good condition and the other is the responsibility of the landlord who leases the property to the department, CSW has learned.

Departments have been asked to report on the current picture of suspected and confirmed RAAC in their estates as soon as possible, ministers confirmed this week.

This work began in June, when Cabinet Office minister Alex Burghart said the Office of Government Property was establishing a RAAC working group to determine the scale of the issue; develop a register of affected government buildings; and share best practice for mitigating any risk.

RAAC is a building material that was used for structural, wall panels and roofing purposes from the mid-1950s to the 1980s. It has been most widely used in flat-roof construction as an alternative to timber, steel or traditional concrete. In recent years, there have been incidents where sections of roof have collapsed.

Many schools were forced to close as the new school year began earlier this month, after the Department for Education discovered more than 150 schools have buildings at risk of collapse as they are made from RAAC which has exceeded its 30-year lifespan.

Former DfE permanent secretary Jonathan Slater criticised Rishi Sunak over the RAAC crisis last week, revealing the prime minister had cut school-rebuilding funds when he was chancellor despite warnings of “critical risk to life”.

The Trades Union Congress has called for the government to publish a national risk register for all public buildings in the wake of the revelations, warning that schools are likely the “tip of the iceberg".


Property & Estates
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