The Government have inherited this from the last crowd, who in turn were told to bastardise the Tory PFI schemes of old, so that the profit made by the developers was better hidden, and less gratuitous and blatant.
This was disguised as a 'risk premium' and a team of Thatcherite-Blairites recruited to staff a new quango, Partnerships UK, to persuade Councils to use PPP.
Well actually, the Government told Councils that if they wanted anything done, they had to use PPP; and they had to use Partnerships UK to
Now admittedly the Government pass the money to Councils to pay many of the bills so the net cost to the Council is low, but the waste of public money is compensatingly enormous.
One example: the PPP model for the new schools was developed by a firm of accountants, and you had to use them if you wanted to get funding. As a Councillor and decision maker, I asked to see the model, but I was only allowed to see the data that was being input and the results being output. I was not allowed to have any information about the model that was being used, and I had to trust that the model was appropriate and actually worked.
And the accountants took no responsibility if it was wrong, as it was 'our model'.
And it cost £2,000 for every change of input data, so serious options modelling was not a viable
It was at this point that I made it clear that I wanted no part in taking a decision based on the project, as I was denied the information I needed to make a sensible choice.
The continuation of such foolishness has been encouraged by the Government, rather than allow all the cheaper funding and construction options they had promised.
But it is the impact on the Comhairle as a whole that is the most serious.
The project costs are escalating at a rate of £30,000 per week, due to the rate of inflation in the building sector, and due to nature of the Government funding the Comhairle are not in a position to delay the works, instead having to find the extra funds for this themselves.
This year 2% is being sliced from revenue budgets of £100m and a further £10m (out of a £20m budget!) from capital to try and balance the books to let the PPP go ahead. And schools are being closed as part of these savings.
Yet the Council are still having to find another £2.4m per annum for the next thirty years to bridge the funding gap - itself up from the £800,000 in the original plan.
Let me make this plain -
- THIS IS THE ECONOMICS OF THE MADHOUSE!
YOU ARE BUILDING SCHOOLS ON THE NEVER-NEVER.
YOU ARE MORTGAGING OUR CHILDREN'S FUTURE.
REJECT THE PLANS AND TELL THE GOVERNMENT TO THINK AGAIN.