Build for Scotland

To judge from what's quoted in the media, anyone would think that today's announcement of £1.4bn for the 21st Century Schools programme was something positive. In reality it's rather pathetic. What was to be £4bn of work has been more than halved in scope, and the money is now to be stretched over seven years instead of three. £200m a year isn't much, especially when only half of it is now going to come from the Welsh Government.

This, and indeed other essential infrastructure investment, could have been much greater if the Labour government was more ambitious and imaginative. To see what a more enterprising government can do we just need to look to Scotland, where the SNP are this week going to announce an infrastructure investment programme of £60bn.

SNP’s £60bn plan to boost the economy

Ministers will this week unveil plans to commit up to £60 billion to finance dozens of infrastructure projects to help prevent Scotland from tipping back into recession.

Amid fresh warnings that the UK is heading for its worst peacetime economic downturn since the end of the 19th century, the Scottish Government will announce plans to fund more than 80 building projects as part of a 15-year plan. Expected funding of up to £4bn a year will come from public funds, but also from a mix of new loans and investment from banks and private lenders.

Ministers are also planning to use new powers in the Scotland Bill going through the UK parliament to enable them to borrow up to £2bn from the UK Treasury’s coffers and have asked that the limit be increased so they can borrow up to £5.6bn. In the meantime, they plan to raise the rest for their capital projects programme through “innovative” financing methods.

Ministers insist the extra cash will not create a re-run of the costly high-interest loans created by old PFI deals in Scotland, which have left the taxpayer paying back far more than the capital cost for new public buildings.

The Scotsman, 4 December 2011

So what might these "innovative financing methods" be? At the bottom of the article we can see that this will be a "non-profit distributing model". Yes, it sounds exactly like the Build for Wales model that Plaid Cymru have been proposing. I'm only surprised they didn't put a bright yellow poppy on it and call it Build for Scotland.

     

It puts the Labour government in Wales to shame. I'm left with the feeling that any attempt at doing something positive has been put to one side simply in order for Labour to repeat, ad nauseam, that it's all the fault of the Tory cuts. Of course we've been kicked in the stomach by the Tory and LibDem cuts, but a bolder Welsh government would get up off the floor and find a way round the constraints ... just as they have in Scotland.

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12 comments:

Siônnyn said...

I suspect that the Build4Wales model is too difficult for either Jane Hut or Carwyn Jones to understand, let alone fully embrace. Their ploy of hanging on till the next UK election and blaming the Tories is very dangerous - thinks will be very different in 2015 - Scotland could have voted for independence, the number of Welsh MPS are unlikely to make a difference, and unless something radical happens to Ed Miliband's leadership, Labour will be indistinguishable from the Tories. Time for Plaid to get its skates on!

Anonymous said...

Interesting piece in the Guardian today by Lesley Riddoch entitled Look north, Scotland and how they are looking to Scandanavia for inspiration.

Anonymous said...

'I suspect that the Build4Wales model is too difficult for either Jane Hut or Carwyn Jones to understand, let alone fully embrace. Their ploy of hanging on till the next UK election and blaming the Tories is very dangerous'
I agree completley with this. They are putting Wales economic success at risk for no reason whatsoever.

There were however a fit snippits of good news for WM education. Sadly not enough...

Anonymous said...

It'll be very difficult for Labour (in Wales) to blame the Tories, if the SNP's policies are successful.

I think they are rather too dense to understand that logic.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"It'll be very difficult for Labour (in Wales) to blame the Tories, if the SNP's policies are successful."

Only if your wonderful Welsh press reports it in any detail.

Scrutineer said...

Indeed. Nobody will actually hear about any of this.

Anonymous said...

wales really does seem to have hit a brick wall, and the Welsh seem quite happy with this.

Anonymous said...

Carwyn done a U turn today from 'standing up for Wales' to aligning himself with the baby eaters in London on Wind turbines.

Scrutineer said...

"wales really does seem to have hit a brick wall, and the Welsh seem quite happy with this."

This is not the case at all. The Welsh don't even know that Wales has hit a brick wall. They don't hear any of these debates. Their main concerns will be about the UK Government and Cameron, even at Assembly elections. It will become more so, not less, despite the referendum. Information and media is what's important, and Wales doesn't have any. Until it does, Welsh politics will play second string to what people see to be the important stuff.

Anonymous said...

"Information and media is what's important and Wales doesn't have any. til it does, Welsh politics will play second string to what people see to be the important stuff."

Agree. But what to about it?

Scrutineer said...

It doesn't really bother me Anon. The two ways to solve it would be to wait for the private press to do so, or use state involvement of some kind. There is an Assembly inquiry at the moment. But whatever.

Anonymous said...

This is what the South Wales Evening Post says about WM provision in NPT->
'new Welsh Medium secondary school on the site of the vacated Sandfields Comprehensive school and federate with a reconfigured 11 to 18 YG Ystalyfera;' (Sandfields in in Port Talbot)

What im intrested in though are the plans for a WM secondary (as reported by the BBC) for Blaenau Gwent?

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