Recently, during the passage of the Finance Bill, I spoke about the need for improved transparency over UK public finances. There is a particularly troubling lack of openness in relation to companies involved in public-private partnership projects.
PFI deals to build schools and hospitals was a Tory policy, enthusiastically embraced by Labour, which has left Scotland with vast bills for crumbling PFI schools for which we are now left paying significantly over the odds. Nowhere is this clearer than in North Ayrshire where the public-private contract costs taxpayers over £1 million every month because of the deeply flawed process run by this Labour-run council which has even given rise to allegations of criminality as uncovered by local journalist Campbell Martin.
Interestingly, while Scotland has 8.5% of the UK’s population, we have been saddled with 40% of all the UK’s discredited PFI deals
With our schools spending 8% of their budgets on paying off these Labour PFI debts, transparency around the tax and all affairs of such companies is vital.