Falkirk’s PFI funded schools cost ‘double’

Graeme High School was one of the schools financed by the PFI scheme
Graeme High School was one of the schools financed by the PFI scheme

The cost of using private money to build five schools has sparked a row.

According to figures obtained by the SNP, the real price of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal with Falkirk Council for Larbert, Graeme and Braes high schools, Carrongrange School and Bo’ness Academy will be £420 million – nearly double what was originally thought.

It is claimed the shock difference is the reason for the £48 million ‘black hole’ in the council budget.

Councillor Cecil Meiklejohn, leader of of the SNP Group, said: “This proves the SNP were right to oppose PFI in 1998, but not the disparity in the figures supplied when the 25-year contract was signed and the up to date figures produced at our request by officers 17 years into that contract.

“This exposes the lie from the current administration that the council tax freeze has created the black hole in council finances.”

In 1998 the total charge to be paid by the council to the Class 98 consortium that will own the schools until 2025 was estimated at £214 million.

Council leader Craig Martin said: “There is absolutely no relationship between the £45 million funding gap and the contract for the new schools developed under PFI. The figures quoted by the SNP do not compare like with like and based on two entirely different accounting methods.”