Funding for vital school building work crumbles

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.

Musselburgh Grammar School in August  but will upgrades and repairs at some other schools now have to be axed? Picture: Ian Rutherford

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.

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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.