Scottish Government: infrastructure projects ‘on time and on budget’
Ministers insist Parliament has been updated with changes to private finance model after EU guidance led to ONS review
The Scottish Government has responded to criticism over how much private finance is being used in infrastructure projects by insisting they will be delivered on time and on budget.
The statement comes after Scottish Labour’s finance spokeswoman Jackie Baillie asked Audit Scotland to investigate changes to how much private money is used in building projects financed through the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT).
Baillie called for the review after it emerged European guidance led to an increase in the amount of spending which had to be kept off the balance books for capital projects such as schools and hospitals.
This could lead to a greater debt burden on the relevant public authorities over the duration of the contract.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been reviewing the balance of public and private sector investment in the UK after Brussels revised its accounting guidance. This had led to delays in projects such as the new Children’s hospital in Edinburgh.
“We fully expect these signed projects to be delivered on time and on budget, regardless of their national statistical classification,” said a Government spokeswoman.
She added: “At key stages in this process the Deputy First Minister has updated Parliament – both in the chamber and to the Finance Committee – and as soon as the ONS publish their report, the DFM will immediately update Parliament about any potential implications.”
Governments across the continent have been under pressure to meet European deficit and debt targets. In May the European Commission said the UK Government had failed to meet its targets on deficit reduction. This has meant infrastructure spending is increasingly kept ‘off the books’ despite the costs of private finance rising.
The Scottish Government deny there has been any delay to the Aberdeen western bypass (AWPR), one of the projects financed through the SFT which is being reviewed by ONS.
“It is simply not the case that there has been any delay to the AWPR since the contracts were signed or as a result of the ONS review of the project, nor has there been any change in the costs,” said the spokeswoman.
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