A new secondary school with a ‘twin’ 55 miles away opens its doors to pupils tomorrow (Wednesday August 14) – as the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) unveils £132 million savings and benefits secured in the past 12 months across its many work areas.
From the outside, Eastwood High School in East Renfrewshire and the Lasswade Centre in Midlothian look completely different – but inside they are almost identical. The dual developments are the result of a unique collaborative arrangement – established by SFT – between East Renfrewshire and Midlothian Councils. That arrangement has helped deliver two modern, high-quality schools while at the same time achieving savings totalling more than £4 million.
As a result of this, 20 other local authorities across Scotland are now working in collaborative groups on their new school projects to achieve similar savings and benefits.
The Eastwood/Lasswade pilot project is just one of many different initiatives and programmes of work managed and overseen by SFT. The company has secured more than £500 million of benefits and savings to Scotland’s taxpayers since it was established in late 2008.
Today, SFT publishes its annual benefits statement containing independently validated savings and benefits for 2012/13 which total £132 million – equivalent to more than £525,000 each working day.
Sir Angus Grossart, chairman of the Scottish Futures Trust, said: “SFT has made remarkable progress in the relatively short period in which it has been operational, with the clear objective of delivering increased value on public sector infrastructure for Scotland.
“Central to SFT’s progress is that we have worked hard to establish strong strategic alliances with local authorities, health boards and other public bodies in Scotland. Those alliances allow SFT to bring additional investment and a strong professional ethos to help deliver public sector construction projects.”
SFT chief executive Barry White said: “The Eastwood and Lasswade schools are a perfect example of what SFT and local authorities can achieve through collaboration, and by having the courage to take an innovative approach to design, procurement and construction for the benefits of the communities the councils serve.
“Working like this means all parties reduce costs, and is one of the many ways SFT has been able to secure benefits of £132 million in the last year alone.
“In addition, SFT’s work in achieving greater value across the Scotland’s Schools for the Future programme has meant that 12 more schools can now be built from within the existing budget, taking the total number of schools from 55 to 67. Because of this, 12,000 more children will benefit from being educated in first-class surroundings.”
The collaborative £65 million Eastwood and Lasswade schools pilot project was completed in June 2013, in time for the return of pupils on August 14 and August 21 respectively. Each school has introduced innovative measures including ‘open-plan’ toilets designed to defeat bullies, identically-designed classrooms and dual-purpose common areas. The Lasswade centre also has a range of community facilities open to the public including a swimming pool, gym, library and café.
SFT also leads on the £2.58bn Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) programme which allows investment in large-scale construction projects such as hospitals, colleges, secondary schools and roads to be made now rather than waiting for capital to become available.
Within the NPD programme SFT has simplified complex contracts and developed efficient and effective approaches to procurement, reflected in the fact that Inverness College reached financial close on its new £50m campus in an unprecedented 17 months, allowing construction to start now. Importantly, SFT secured an excellent value-for money deal on construction and finance and when complete the new Inverness College will be a high-quality building providing a first-class environment for students and academics alike.
SFT’s work across innovative programmes such as Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) has helped public sector investment of £140 million to be made on two TIF projects (Glasgow Council’s Buchanan Quarter and Falkirk Council’s upgrading of the M9 and A904 as well as flood defence systems around Grangemouth) which in turn will unlock a massive £800 million of long-term investment from the private sector. It is estimated that the long-term investment will support 6,000 jobs in Falkirk alone.