Sunday, 25 April 2010

What's Worse, a Waste of Money or a Waste of Time.....?

Not strictly associated with the election campaign, but this report in today's Sunday Mail returns the spotlight to Scottish issues and particularly the failures of the so-called "Scottish Futures Trust" (SFT).

For new readers, the SNP promised to abolish the Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) that previous administrations had used for the financing and contracting of capital projects such as new schools and hospitals. The SNP would replace the "hated" PPP with a "Trust" which would identify and gather the finance for these projects and manage the projects to completion.

Unfortunately, the SFT was not  a real idea at all: it was back-of-an-envelope puff, dreamt up to put something, anything, in the SNP manifesto. The SFT did not really exist, with the result that it took three whole years before even the current SFT, a sort of hands on purchasing agency with no power or authority to raise money or spend much, could even be set up.

The result is that, whereas the previous Labour/LibDem coalition had been responsible for 237 new schools, the SNP administration at Holyrood has not yet built even one school. Not one brick has been laid in 3 years. In fact, even at the best estimate, the SNP at Holyrood has authorised the building of 37 new schools, and none of these has any chance of being completed before the 2011 Scottish elections. The educational legacy of the first ever SNP administration looks likely to be no new schools in a full administration, an unprecedented failure to deliver better facilities to our teachers and pupils.

The Sunday Mail story says that even now, almost a year after the SFT was officially set up, there has been £1.4million spent, but there is no sign of any concrete ( forgive the pun) progress on building new schools, hospitals or any other capital project.

Alex Salmond is fond of going on UK TV and boasting that his minority government is proof that a hung parliament can work. Maybes aye, maybes naw, but it depends what you mean by "working": if the measure of success of an administration is how well it provides for the future needs of its citizens, then the tale of the SFT is a tale of failure on an unprecedented scale.

The SFT is undoubtedly a waste of money, but worse than that, it has been a waste of time, of four wasted  years in which no schools were commissioned from Holyrood.

Alex Salmond may think that his administration is a "success", and he may bask in the belief that being invited onto the BBC to say so at length is some sort of personal or political endorsement. But not building schools is a definition of failure in any sane world, and the SFT is the vehicle of that failure.

1 comment:

  1. According to me, both are worse, waste of money and waste of time.