£10.5m to repay debt due to PFI schools

Dalkeith Community Campus and High School built under a 30-year PFI contract.
Dalkeith Community Campus and High School built under a 30-year PFI contract.

Schools across Midlothian continue to count the cost of the previous PFI legacy – which will see the council spend 11 per cent servicing the decade-old debts.

New research into the toxic PFI legacy which continues to plague Scotland’s public finances shows the total spend on schools across Scotland by councils this year.

And it’s via this report that details 11 per cent of Midlothian Council’s education budget is being used to pay off PFI debts from the Coalition’s time in Government.

The analysis by independent researchers in the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) has found that PFI charges for Scotland’s schools in 2018/19 are estimated to be £434.3 million nationally.

This equates to a significant amount of Scottish schools’ total resource budget of £5.159 billion, and according to Christine Grahame MSP is a “shameful legacy” of Labour and the Liberal Democrat’s years in power at Holyrood.

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

Commenting, the local SNP MSP said: “This toxic PFI legacy of Labour, propped up by the LibDems when they were in a coalition government, means the public purse is still paying heavily over the odds servicing their decade-old debts, today and for some years to come.

“They ought to apologise for their mistakes – which will cost Midlothian schools £10.5 million this year alone, representing a whopping 11 per cent of the entire schools budget for the year.

“This is money that councils could use to pay for teachers, books extra facilities and activities, but instead it having to be used to pay for mistakes which have led to these debts.

“And, let’s not forget, last year alone over £1 billion was taken from Scotland’s public services to help pay off these PFI debts. That’s a figure which is as eyewatering as it is disgraceful.

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