The SNP, currently ahead of Labour in some polls, has pledged to sweep away the public private partnership with a "Scottish Futures Trust" if it wins power in the Scottish elections next May.

The Nationalists claim PPP, currently rebuilding pound;2 billion worth of schools, has left Scotland with extra costs of pound;5bn in "credit card"-style costs, so-called because of high interest payments over 30 years. Their plan would release an additional pound;116 million a year for public services just by switching from the funding regime on current projects, the party says.

The new trust would be based on the issuing of public bonds which would have access to lower cost borrowing.

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