The Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Education Committee, Councillor Jeff Leaver and Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray are seeking assurances from the Scottish Government that they will deliver on commitments made regarding funding for the Dalbeattie Learning Campus and Dumfries Learning Town projects in the timescale promised.
Councillor Leaver has written to the Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney seeking assurances, after it was revealed there may be delays in receiving funding due to flaws in the Government’s Scottish Future Trust (SFT) ‘Hub’ funding model.
Councillor Leaver has warned that any delays would be “betrayal” for local pupils and also is likely to increase costs for the projects and impact on local jobs.
Most of the funding for the proposed news Schools will come from Dumfries and Galloway Council, and this funding has already been agreed by Councillors. However, around £24m of the projects is also being met by the Scottish Government through their Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) ‘Hub’ programme.
After flaws in the programme were identified by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) have now contacted Council’s across Scotland to advise that this is ‘likely to have an impact’ on projects. This may prevent the signing of the Financial Close contract and delay work starting on site, which would have an impact on the completion date of the projects.
Councillor Jeff Leaver said:
“I am disappointed at the way this has been handled by the Scottish Government. Council’s across Scotland have their funding in place for new projects such as schools but we are all now being told by the Government that they may not be able to come up with their share of the funding in the timescale promised. It’s clear they didn’t do their homework when setting up their new funding model and they may have to backtrack on promises they made. We are being told the Scottish Government are working on a solution but frankly we are currently left in limbo. I have written to the Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney seeking an assurance we will get the funding in full, on time. If we don’t this will be a betrayal of pupils by the Scottish Government and a clear broken promise. Failure to come up with the funds on time will delay the new schools being built which will be disappointing to pupils and teachers. But it will also impact on local jobs, particularly local contractors and it will drive up costs. It is estimated that for every month the cost of the new Dalbeattie Learning Campus would rise by £200,000 alone”.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray added:
“The Scottish Government need to get their act together on this. The uncertainty surrounding the funding for much needed Education regeneration projects in our region isn’t fair to local people. If these projects are delayed due to the incompetence of the Scottish Government, it won’t only be tax payers who are paying the price; it will be local parents and pupils too.”