Letter to First Minister: As schools return, it’s time for a “longer-term” inquiry into PPP

Ben Wray

On the day Edinburgh schools return, Common Weal, alongside trade unions and campaign groups, have sent a letter to the First Minister calling on her to launch a Scotland-wide “root and branch” inquiry into public-private partnerships after the PFI school fiasco earlier this year. The letter is re-published in full below

DEAR First Minister,

We are writing to stress the importance of the Scottish Government following through on your position, prior to the election, for a wider and “longer term inquiry” into PPP contracts in Scotland.

Since the election, the scandal of PFI/PPP built schools being constructed without essential wall ties has grown from 17 schools in Edinburgh to identical problems identified in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire. We therefore believe that while the Edinburgh City Council inquiry is essential, a wider inquiry across the whole of Scotland is needed as this problem is clearly not isolated to the capital.

That wider inquiry must also be wider in scope, taking into account:

  • Whether the ‘self-certification’ model of PPP building regulation should be amended or replaced.
  • The lack of transparency over PPP contracts and whether open access should be the default setting in future.
  • The high cost of debt repayments on PPP contracts, and analysis of whether debt cancellation or contract re-negotiation is a viable option.
  • The current ‘Non-Profit Distribution’ and ‘Hub’ models of public-private partnerships being pursued by the Scottish Government and whether that approach is in the public interest in terms of cost and quality of delivery, and whether an alternative approach should be considered.

This would constitute a root-and-branch assessment of PPP in Scotland, which we think is necessary given the severity of the crisis provoked by the schools scandal and risks to public health and safety.

We also believe that it is vital the inquiry is led not simply by those in the construction industry, but also independent public finance experts, trade unions and parents, who are just some of the direct stakeholders in this issue.


Common Weal

Unison Scotland


Larry Flanagan –  EIS General Secretary

People Vs PFI campaign

Unite the Union


Jubilee Scotland