Changes in funding for new high school

Angus Council Education Committee will meet on Thursday (tomorrow) to discuss recent correspondence from the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust regarding funding for the Brechin High School which has left them unsure if the proposals will have an impact on quality, cost and timescale.

A spokesperson from Angus Council said: “The purpose of the report is to inform members of the Education Committee that recent correspondence with the Scottish Government/Scottish Futures Trust would appear to indicate that the method of funding for this project has changed.

“Rather than the council being given a capital allocation from the government towards the project, it is proposed to move towards a Non-Profit Distribution Model, similar to previous PPP (public private partnership) schemes.

“It is our understanding that this would not affect the timetable or the overall costs of the project, but we will continue to seek further clarification from the government on the funding process.”

Director of education Neil Logue said: “Officers have sought to seek assurances from the Scottish Government/Scottish Futures Trust about details of the proposal.

“In particular, whether this will impact on the delivery of the project in terms of quality, cost and timescale and how it is anticipated this alternative approach will achieve best value considering the potential for a more complex procurement process.

“Clarification is also required on the financial details in respect of calculation of the Scottish Government contribution to a unitary charge and the implication of this for the Council.

“From an Angus Council position, this situation is far from satisfactory. Taking forward a capital project of this value and importance is a complex process, and it is important all stakeholders are involved and working with clear and unambiguous terms of engagement.

“Indeed, it was only in June last year that the council was given clarity on the funding parameters and timescale.

“That purported clarity now appears to be changing and, at this crucial stage in the project’s development, to fundamentally change the methodology for funding the project work, without providing details, is untenable.

“Not only does this create uncertainty, it potentially results in work which has been undertaken to date being unnecessary.

Mr Logue recommends that the education committee notes the recent correspondence from the Scottish Government and notes that the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust have indicated this should not impact on the programme or the quality of the project.

He also recommends that they instruct the director of education to seek information from the Scottish Government/Scottish Futures Trust as a matter of urgency on the detail of the updated proposals for funding the project.

Peter Nield, convener of the education committee said: “By making the school more of a community hub will give Brechin more value for money. We will work hammer and tongs to give Brechin the best school that we can.

“The Scottish Government has, as previously reported, changed the amount of funding available. They have changed the funding issue from Scottish Government funding to revenue funding. They wanted us to go through the Scottish Futures Trust hub and now want us to go to PPP.

“All the time they have mucked us about and the deadlines have been extended.

“What else can the Government change?”

Speaking before the meeting Bob Myles said: “We have now got a slightly different funding package.

“At the end of the day it will mean that Angus Council will probably have to put more in the pot.

“Before we put any package together we have to be clear that there is some sort of funding available to deliver it. That was always a question mark that we had.

“Initially it was going to be two thirds of the funding but they have backed down on this and say they are going to give us a different amount of funding which may be less.

“What I would like to do is deliver a project that Brechin would actually want.

“We could have an all singing, all dancing community school centre there if that is what people want.

“Obviously the consultation exercise has not finished yet so we do not know what the public want. If the final consultation says that Brechin are happier with the way things are delivered just now with just the school being there then that may be all that they get.”