Funding for vital school building work crumbles

Musselburgh Grammar School in August ' but will upgrades and repairs at some other schools now have to be axed? Picture: Ian Rutherford
Musselburgh Grammar School in August ' but will upgrades and repairs at some other schools now have to be axed? Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THE cash to be spent on rebuilding Scotland’s crumbling schools has been reduced by £82 million, more than one-third, this year, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

An analysis of John Swinney’s budget shows the £226m ministers had intended to 
invest during the 2014/15 
financial year has fallen by £82 million to just £144m.

Last night opposition politicians and teaching unions 
expressed concern the SNP’s flagship policy to fund the construction of public buildings was not delivering.

The funding shortfall was identified when the forecasts made in last year’s budget were compared with those 
outlined by Swinney last week. A similar pattern was found when it came to spending on community health projects. In the 2013 budget, the government said £110m would be spent this year. Last week the figure had been revised down to £51m.

For college building programmes the figure was reduced from £162m to £146m.

Last week’s budget document blamed the schools shortfall on local authorities changing their delivery dates on schools building projects.

It also predicted that spending on schools projects would increase to £326m in 2015/16.

But Scottish Conservative 
finance spokesman Gavin Brown said: “The Scottish Government have massively over-promised and under-delivered when it comes down to NPD capital projects. I understand that the hopelessly optimistic promises were the work of ministers – we now need to know which ministers are 
going to accept responsibility.”

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: “Capital investment is crucial for schools and any slippage and any subsequent loss of funds 
is something that we would oppose.”

A Scottish Government spokesman blamed the UK government’s austerity programme, which he said amounted to a 26 per cent real terms cut to capital budget over the current spending review period.

In April, Keane Wallis-
Bennett, 12, died after a freestanding changing room wall collapsed on her at Liberton High School in Edinburgh. Parents claimed the wall had been “wobbly” for months.

The school needed £1m of “significant” repairs but was dropped down Edinburgh City Council’s list because of budget pressures.