SFT aims to deliver savings to taxpayer

Scottish Futures Trust: 750 million pound savings planned. Picture: TSPL
Scottish Futures Trust: 750 million pound savings planned. Picture: TSPL
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THE Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) plans to deliver up to £750 million of savings to the taxpayer over the next five years as it deploys funding strategies it learned in the years after its inception on a wider scale.

According to its latest corporate plan, published today, the SFT “is increasing investment by challenging conventional processes and devising new, more ­focussed and commercially attractive programmes”.

The group, set up in 2009 to make infrastructure investment more efficient, has secured £4 billion of additional investment which is generating greater levels of economic benefit and supporting employment in communities across Scotland.

Chief executive Barry White said the Aberdeen bypass, which the SFT helped to commission, will bring in “many billions” of benefits for the local economy. He added: “A bigger win for the taxpayer is the outcome in jobs and employment.”

Chairman Sir Angus Grossart told The Scotsman that the SFT offered a progressive approach to decision-making, which was less risk averse.

“We have been set up to lead by example and this is vital for the areas in which we operate, which were areas of considerable weakness in the past,” he said.

Grossart said the body was now well established and “engaged harmoniously” with a wide range of other public sector bodies.

He added: “We’re looking at a time when two key elements will enhance our activity and hopefully also our performance. The first is that, with greater devolution in whatever form, the tax-raising powers and debt funding are going to impact on the opportunities and way in which we do things.

“Secondly, the private capital markets are looking with great interest at infrastructure. We have a convergence of two major funding territories with a lot of change happening, so looking ahead over the next five years is a very exciting prospectus.”

SFT’s latest corporate plan highlights new and enhanced areas of work, including the roll-out of its pioneering growth accelerator model across Scotland’s cities.

The system is designed to accelerate public and private sector investment and create economic growth and long-term employment opportunities.

It was developed out of the SFT’s Regeneration Accelerator Model, itself created for the City of Edinburgh Council to use for the redevelopment of the St James Quarter.

It helped the council move quickly to invest £61m and is unlocking further investment. It was recently announced that the St James Centre’s owner, TH Real Estate, aims to tender £400m of construction contracts.

A strategy for Scotland’s future digital requirements is also on the cards, as the organisation looks to bring a new generation of ultrafast broadband and wireless infrastructure to support businesses and communities across Scotland.

It is also involved in developing creative financing initiatives to increase the supply of affordable-rent housing.

White said: “Housing is one of the key areas for us. To date, we’ve focused on ­affordable mid-market rent. The acquired knowledge we have allows us to develop solutions that investors such as pension funds and insurance companies can respond to.”