Sunday, 3 January 2010

Scottish Futures Trust

In May 2008, the Scottish Government announced its way forward for infrastructure investment in Scotland to secure new schools, hospitals and transport projects at better value to the public purse.

Ministers published the strategic business case for the Scottish Futures Trust initiative to be supported by a new company established in the public sector.

It's now more than a year and a half since the SFT was announced and I've suggested several times that the Scottish Government need to start showing the public that this organisation is set to deliver the goods.

The SFT cost £23m to set up while its budget for the next financial year is £5.9m.

Today the Sunday Post reports the salaries of SFT employees. The CEO, Barry White, receives £180,000 and seven other administrators are paid between £50,000 and £95,000. The four most senior director appointments are paid between £85,000 and £130,000. Another batch of support staff and executives are due to be recruited later this year.

The SNP said the not-for-profit body would end the exorbitant costs associated with the Private Finance Initiative system of funding, saving taxpayers between £100 and £150 million a year.

I have no objection to anyone being paid their worth, but the SFT has yet to produce anything of substance. Time has run out for this body to show its existence will have any money-saving effect on government expenditure.

Sadly the only news ever reported about it is negative and when Scots read their newspaper this morning that message will be reinforced. Only the Scottish Government can change the present image of the SFT - if it's not already too late.


Hythlodaeus said...

It's still cheaper then the PFI deals Labour and the Tories have been locking us into since the 1990s ;)

subrosa said...

Really? The idea of it perhaps but there are no examples as yet Hythlodaeus. That's where the problem lies. Where's the proof?

If there are examples then it's up to the SNP to ensure they reach the wider population. Not for the population to have to dig around the internet to find out about one of the SNP's 'star' policies.

Polaris said...

@Hythlodaeus - how can their value be judged when they are as yet still to do anything?

This is a big fail on the SNPs part, it was a popular election policy, PFI/PPP is despised, and the SFTs success would have been a crowning achievement.

They are only politicians...

subrosa said...

Exactly Polaris. Its progress has been very badly handled by the government.

Anonymous said...

An Achilles Heel here for the SNP and a loaded gun to Annabel.

Gray will fluff it.

Tavish will rabbit on about something completely nonsensical like the Aberdeen bypass?

subrosa said...

I'm hoping Bug, if any SNP members of influence read this that they'll get the message.

The Sunday Post hasn't done any favours whatsoever and the SNP need to get off their backsides and counter their article immediately - like yesterday.

Vronsky said...

PFI, Futures Trust - it's all just dodging the simple solution - let the government borrow. If we owe money, let's be open about it and show it on the balance sheet. We've seen what happens when governments and banks try to conceal indebtedness - same as happens to you in your own wee life if you ignore those letters in red ink: trouble.

The neo-con distaste for public borrowing just pushes it underground and into scams like PFI. Let it all hang out - let's just borrow, and tell the truth in the accounts. It's cheaper (much) and we know where we stand.

subrosa said...

You're correct of course Vronsky, but open government borrowing isn't an option sadly.

SFT was supposed to be the best option yet, with all the expenditure so far, there's no evidence it's saved a penny.

sm753 said...

SFT is non-existent and represents a blatant lie by the Nats.

When first announced - a wheeze to somehow raise private finance for public projects at rates cheaper than PFI - I thought, "Oo, how are they going to do that"?

The answer is "They can't."

The SNP manifesto promised "Scottish Futures Bonds".

None have been issued.

They waffled about enabling local councils to issue joint bonds for major projects.

Hasn't happened. Lenders not interested in local govt bonds.

More to the point, all of this was ultra vires and illegal. Couldn't be done.

So, were Salmond and Swinney too stupid to work all this out, or did they know and just lie?

subrosa said...

I certainly don't think Salmond and Swinney are stupid. From what I understand there were legal problems to do with the Scotland Act.

If you want to look at stupid, look no further than Mr Devine.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

The welfare payment of billions world wide paid into the banks (which in the case of the UK may yet be considered unconstitutional) could be a factor in the delay.

Slightly disingenuous for those who choose to ignore the causes to limit their criticisms to their effects.

Ultra vires and illegal? My, my, that must make them guilty twice!

subrosa said...

Indeed it could Crinkly, but really, the SNP need to up their game in the 'public information' stakes.

They should have the reasons for the delay on their website for starters.

And they should at least upgrade their website to something which looks user friendly. I don't know how many years it's been like it is.

They have the experts available so do hope they get on with it. Doubt if they listen to me though.

Surely you'd think they would have realised the success of the likes of conservativehome etc and decided to go down that route.

These sites attract those interested in politics but many glean information from them too and pass it onto friends. I do.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Rosa, your guess is as good as mine.

But when you consider the media down here are more likely to take an interest in Patagonian politics than Scottish, I think, were I a strategic gnome for the SNP, I'd be keeping the blueprints close to my chest.

It's proving to be a long hard winter that's about to get worse and that will be followed by a dismal spring and both will be made worse by the political hogwash that precedes an election.

So much so, that by May it maybe the politicians who win and the people lose by again being swamped in a mire of apathy.

Yet, if the SNP can trump Labour into second place in the Westminster poll and that's combined with a small majority for either Labour or the Cons it could leave the Lib Dems swithering whether to form a Lab or Con pact. Because what would suit England won't suit Scotland (or vice versa) so the Lib Dem jig may be rudely halted by the horns of the dilemma they've danced around for years by the horns being inserted where the Sun don't shine.

The damnable part is that in all this, all of them will put their own and party positions well ahead of what is really best for the country. A country already in dire need of competent democratic government.

subrosa said...

If I had to choose from all the political parties Crinkly, I'd choose the SNP.

They have, by far, the most competent and charismatic leader (yes I know he likes curries) but his cabinet are also far more professional than I see from most in Westminster. To be fair Dave has a few good ones in his but he's left most on the back benches.

It is to the shame of the unionists that they show so much disdain towards the ruling party in Scotland. May that come back to bite them many times over at the general election. I can wish can't I?

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