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Sturgeon updates capital spending plans for growth

By Keith Aitken in Edinburgh | 4 February 2013

The Scottish Government has today published a revised plan for capital spending, with a claim that the £3.1bn investment programme is supporting 40,000 jobs in the current year.

The update sets out progress on the government’s construction programme until 2030, first published in December 2011 and nicknamed a ‘letter to Santa’ by opposition MSPs at the time.

Today’s revised plan envisages a drop of £0.1bn in activity by the end of 2012/13, compared with the original plan. Spending projections for the following year are up by around the same amount to £3.4bn. 

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has Cabinet responsibility for infrastructure and investment, said the increase came despite ‘substantial and ill thought-through cuts’ of 26% in Scotland’s capital budget from Westminster.

Sturgeon said the update would give the construction industry ‘a very clear line of sight’ in respect of planned investment.

‘This government is determined to invest in Scotland’s infrastructure – in our schools, roads and hospitals – both to stimulate growth in the short term and to lay the foundations for long-term success.’

Projects due to complete in the current financial year include Aberdeen Community Health and Care Village, a number of schools across Scotland, and the expansion of Glasgow School of Art. Sturgeon also reported solid progress on a number of major projects, including Glasgow’s new Southern General Hospital, where she announced the updated plans.

However, Labour said the government had to rein back its investment ambitions because its alternative funding formula to the Private Finance Initiative – the Non-Profit Distributing model – was failing to deliver.

Richard Baker, Labour’s infrastructure spokesman, said the NPD had raised only £20m of the £353m originally projected for 2012/13, and project starts were being delayed as a result. However, the Scottish Government responded that the NPD was only ever intended to be one element of funding, and that nine major projects worth more than £600m had been completed across the year.  

Scottish Conservative spokesman Alex Johnstone added: ‘This might as well be called the lack of progress report. What we have is a list of schemes that are running over budget or behind schedule, then a new wish list with no detail of where the money will come from or how it will be delivered.’

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