Jeremy Corbyn has yet again shown substance in policy in his proposal to end the burden of PFI on health authorities.
I live in the small social housing element of the Quartermile district of Edinburgh. It is the site of the old Edinburgh Royal Hospital and now a gleaming new city designed by Norman Foster is rising where one-bedroom flats begin at £400,000 and penthouse suites cost £3 million.
The Edinburgh Royal Hospital was rebuilt out on the outskirts of the city six miles from the centre where it can take an hour to get by bus.
Gordon Brown insisted in 1998 that it be built by PFI so it wouldn’t appear on his public expenditure books. So the Bank of Scotland and property companies built the new hospital and developed the old city centre site.
It would have cost £200 million to build a new hospital from public funds at the time, and it will cost £1.2 billion over 30 years in rental payments for the new hospital.
This is a huge burden on the health authority every year and at the end of 30 years we then have to buy the hospital or have another 30-year rental deal.
Although the SNP government have ended PFI in Scotland the burden of past deals weighs heavy on their revenue. Gordon Brown thought he was being smart at the time; round here we know it as “Gordon’s Folly”. We would welcome Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to write off the debt.