The Acronym Soup can get confusing. PPP, PFI, NPD – they are all hurled about, but there will certainly be no alphabet learning for more than 7,000 pupils across Edinburgh locked out of school since the Easter break as building safety standards are assessed and repairs undertaken. The schools were built under the controversial private finance initiative – PFI – by the Labour/Liberal Democrat administration at Holyrood, and there’s now even talk that some of them may need to be knocked down and rebuilt.
As a tangible symbol of rip-off Britain and the failed privatisation of the public sector, it is exemplary. In a week where the reality gap between rich and poor and the fetid reality of our tax-dodging governing class has been laid bare, it feels like the end of a really bad experiment. The system is discredited. The model is broken. It is crumbling before our eyes.
What have the Panama Papers got to do with schools in Edinburgh? It’s a perpetual circle. Tax avoidance drains money from society, forcing solutions that suit private contractors and let politicians off the hook.
These building problems raise significant wider issues about how we finance big public building programmes, and it’s not just about schools.
OK, so, some schools built with PFI don’t seem to be structurally sound. That’s the allegation at least.
OK, so who pays for this? My assumption would be that the contract is for the provider to provide an asset and a service in return for a fixed payment annually (say). So, if the building falls over such provider has to go fix it at their own expense. Is that what actually happens? Or did Gordo fuck up these contracts even more than I thought?
Ahh, and here is the answer:
Kerr confirmed at the weekend the council is likely to pursue damages and costs with ESP, which has acknowledged it “will accept full financial responsibility for investigating and resolving these issues”.
The builders fucked up, the builders pay. Rather the point of the contracts, wasn’t it?