Money maze

THE Accounts Commission report on the private finance initiative in schools has the potential to take the issue out of politics. Wishful thinking indeed. The Tories and the Executive praised the findings for supporting PFI, while the SNP thought its conclusions "damning". So the commission must have got it just about right.

The Executive's response in talking up PFI and barely acknowledging the report's misgivings has been extraordinary. The report has one clear message: PFI has many advantages but these can be secured in other ways and the alleged cost benefits may well be illusory - or "subject to inherent uncertainty and subjectivity", as the commission delicately puts it.

The Executive should now put PFI to much more transparent tests against publicly funded alternatives and it should speed up its discussions with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on allowing councils more flexibility over capital borrowing. We must also take action to avoid two classes of school springing up, the PFI-built ones and the dilapidated remainder.

The Accounts Commission has done us a favour: it has made PFI less of a mystery and it has provided robust evidence to rebut political claim and counter-claim. Ministers need to give a more considered response.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you