Ed­u­ca­tion costs tak­ing their toll

Pri­vate Fi­nance leaves a legacy of debt for coun­cil

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

New schools built across South La­nark­shire Coun­cil con­tinue to cost tax pay­ers, with the lo­cal author­ity fac­ing a £33.2mil­lion bill this year alone.

The schools were built un­der the pri­vate fi­nance ini­tia­tive (PFI) which sees pri­vate cap­i­tal used to build pub­lic in­fras­truc­ture.

But the debt and in­ter­est re­paid to pri­vate com­pa­nies means the to­tal re­paid is of­ten sev­eral times the cost of the school build.

This year South La­nark­shire Coun­cil faces the third largest bill of all lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in Scot­land, only fall­ing be­hind the coun­tries two largest cities.

Anal­y­sis by the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre has re­vealed Glas­gow City Coun­cil has a bill of £54m and Edinburgh City Coun­cil £40.4m.

This week, the SNP slammed the labour-led South La­nark­shire Coun­cil for leav­ing a legacy of debt un­der PFI.

Clare Haughey MSP for Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang - which have seen all their schools re­built or re­fur­bished since 2004, said: “The toxic legacy that Labour’s PFI deals have left our schools and South La­nark­shire Coun­cil con­tin­ues to cost mil­lions of pounds ev­ery year.

“While Labour carp from the side­lines about the SNP’s record, it is in­creas­ingly clear that we are still pay­ing for the mess that Labour left over a decade ago – with pay­ments in 2017/18 to be as high as £426.8 mil­lion across all our coun­cil ar­eas, and South La­nark­shire fac­ing a bill of £33.2 mil­lion.

“Labour’s spend­thrift and reck­less han­dling of our pub­lic fi­nances con­tin­ues to rob South La­nark­shire Coun­cil of funds which could be put to­wards de­liv­er­ing bet­ter lo­cal ser­vices.

“It’s high time that Labour apol­o­gised for this toxic legacy that they’ve left for our schools, South La­nark­shire Coun­cil and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties across the coun­try.”

But Labour’s James Kelly MSP branded Ms Haughey a “hyp­ocrite’,’ slam­ming: “De­spite cam­paign­ing for years to abol­ish PFI, the SNP has car­ried this on un­der a dif­fer­ent name and has made an ab­so­lute mess of it,” he said. “£915m has been lost from the Scot­tish budget be­cause of the SNP mis­man­age­ment of cap­i­tal projects.

“While SNP MSPs voted to cut fund­ing to South La­nark­shire Coun­cil, Labour coun­cil­lors are re­fur­bish­ing and rebuilding ev­ery school across Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang.

“We in­vested in ed­u­ca­tion when we were in gov­ern­ment to give ev­ery­body a fair chance in life, un­like the SNP which only cares about im­pos­ing an­other di­vi­sive ref­er­en­dum.”

We are pay­ing for the mess Labour left a decade ago

Po­lit­i­cal fight The new St Cadoc’s Pri­mary in 2015 was a joy­ous oc­ca­sion, but the SNP say the mod­erni­sa­tion pro­gramme has left South La­nark­shire Coun­cil with a mas­sive bill

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