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Scottish govt insists major infrastructure schemes will be on time and on budget

The Scottish government has insisted that several of its major infrastructure projects will be delivered on time and on budget, after probes into how much private finance is being used to fund them.

An investigation by the Guardian this week revealed that the Scottish government will look to increase private sector funding to pay for a multi-billion pound spending programme, after an EU ruling delayed major public projects.

The changes mean the government-established Scottish Futures Trust has been forced to limit the amount of public funding for capital projects.

These included the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, two NHS schemes and over a dozen secondary schools.

The guidance also prompted the Office of National Statistics to review the balance of public and private sector investment in the UK.

The EU ruling means the public sector involvement in these projects has reduced to 20 per cent, with private firms now making up 60 per cent and private charities accounting for the final 20 per cent.

Deputy first minister John Swinney said: “This is a statistical accounting classification and has no impact on the cost or delivery timetable of the AWPR or the two NHS projects that the ONS has also indicated it will review.

“We fully expect these projects to be completed on time and on budget – as they are currently on track to do.”

He added: “This decision published by ONS today means we need to give further consideration to the contractual arrangements that apply to the AWPR, with a view to securing a private sector classification.

“I have instructed Scottish Futures Trust to engage with ONS and other parties to clarify the detailed points of interpretation that have underpinned the decision and their potential implications.

“I have updated Parliament at key stages of this process and I will do so again at the earliest available opportunity following its summer recess.”

Chief executive of the SFT Barry White said: “Non-profit distributing (NPD) has provided crucial investment over the past few years helping the construction industry in Scotland weather the downturn and recover after the impact of the global financial crisis.

“All of the £1.8bn signed projects will continue on site as planned.

“We will seek clarification of the ONS rationale as quickly as possible. Subject to that clarification we will assess what options exist to amend the AWPR contract that could allow a reclassification decision to be sought.”

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