Europe’s long-term lending institution has agreed to provide GBP 102 million to improve schools across the London Borough of Croydon – the first ever loan exclusively for investment in local schools by a UK borough.
This 25-year loan will help Croydon Council invest in building and upgrading dozens of schools and providing thousands of extra pupil places, and will be used alongside other sources of financing from the local authority, including internal resources and grant funding.
The new loan, which will help the council to provide thousands of extra primary and secondary schools places, was highlighted during a visit on Thursday to Croydon from Jonathan Taylor, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, who was shown around a new primary school with Councillor Tony Newman, Leader of Croydon Council and Councillor Simon Hall, the council’s cabinet member for finance and treasury.
Investment in a total of 38 schools will be supported from the new loan. Primary school children in Croydon will benefit from 6 new schools as well as the upgrade and extension of 25 existing schools. The new EIB loan will also enable construction at 6 secondary schools. Children with special needs living in Croydon will benefit from a new school and upgrading work to improve access at 17 other schools across the borough. Improvements to sports facilities used by local schoolchildren will also be supported by the new loan, including work to upgrade a swimming pool.
“The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting long-term investment that improves lives and opportunities in London and across the UK. This significant new loan will not only allow future generations of Croydon students to benefit from better schools, but also help to ensure that the Borough can provide thousands of additional schools places required in the next few years. We expect to announce further support for UK schools in the coming months,” said Jonathan Taylor, European Investment Bank Vice President.
“This council is committed to meeting unprecedented demand for school places by providing excellent new facilities for children in Croydon, which has London’s largest and youngest population. At a time of increasingly tight finances and tougher Government grants, including in education, this loan provides crucial additional resources offering better value for money than more traditional loans,” said Councillor Simon Hall, Croydon Council’s cabinet member for finance and treasury.
Over the next three years schools in Croydon must provide an additional 2100 secondary places and 5182 places in primary schools to cope with expected increased demand.
During the visit to Croydon on Thursday, Mr Taylor was shown the type of new school facilities that the loan will fund during a tour of Harris Academy Haling Park primary, which opened in September 2014 to meet the demand for new, high-quality places in South Croydon.
In recent years the EIB has supported new investment in schools, social housing and transport infrastructure by London boroughs as well as backing water, electricity, rail and underground and airport investment in the capital. Last year the European Investment Bank provided a record GBP 6 billion for long-term investment in key infrastructure across the UK including support for new hospitals, better water and sewerage infrastructure, renewable energy and energy transmission and private sector investment.
In the last decade the European Investment Bank has provided nearly GBP 2.5 billion for education investment across the UK. This has included support for university campus development in Edinburgh, York, Strathclyde, Swansea, Aston, Birmingham and Kent and backing for construction of new vocational training buildings at the City of Glasgow College. The EIB has supported school investment around the UK under the Building Schools for the Future programme. Since 2009 the EIB has provided more than EUR 19 billion for education investment across Europe.