MSP attacks ‘toxic’ legacy of PFI deals

Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson
Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson

Schools across North Lanarkshire continue to count the cost of Labour’s ‘toxic’ PFI legacy according to Motherwell and Wishaw MSP Clare Adamson.

New research into the PFI legacy shows that of the total spend across North Lanarkshire’s schools this year, eight per cent of that money will be used paying off debts for the building of new schools.

The analysis by independent researchers in SPICe has found that PFI unitary charges for Scotland’s schools in 2018/19 are estimated to be £434.3 million – almost 10 per cent of Scottish schools’ total resource budget of £5.159 billion.

In 2016/17, total PFI repayments cost Scotland over £1 billion.

Mrs Adamson said: “Labour’s toxic PFI legacy means the public purse is still paying heavily over the odds servicing their decade-old debts.

“They ought to apologise for their mistakes which will cost our schools in North Lanarkshire £23 millionthis year alone.

“Money that councils could use to pay for teachers, books and facilities is being used by councils forced to pay for Labour’s mistakes.

“In the meantime, we have seen the Labour administration in North Lanarkshire cutting vital classroom assistants from our schools.

“Thanks to Labour’s shameful legacy, the reality is we are going to be saddled with this bill for years to come.”

The council’s Convener of Education, Youth and Communities claims PFI was the best option available at the time and necessary after years on ‘underinvestment’.

He said: “The funding represented the best option available at that time and were negotiated well, meaning we pay a significantly lower percentage than the national average.

“Our school improvement programme was one of the biggest in the country at that time and was desperately required following years of underinvestment and neglect from the Governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

“We have delivered huge advantages for communities across North Lanarkshire with the investment in the school estate and are committed to ensuing our young people benefit from first class educational facilities.

“The Scottish Government provides 85 per cent of local government funding and have decimated budgets over the last 11 years, cutting more than £200 million from North Lanarkshire alone. This included a cut to our capital budget last year, which restricts investment in our schools.

“It is disappointing that Clare Adamson supports these cuts in Holyrood rather than fight for a fair deal for our communities.”