Midlothian school funding

Wednesday September 11th 2019

Peter Smaill

Written by Councillor Peter Smaill, Leader Conservative Group Midlothian Council

It’s great to see the Scottish Government at last putting their hands in their pockets (substantially UK taxpayers actually) and chipping in for a replacement school building for Beeslack, for many years in teaching terms one of the best performing schools in Midlothian. But it is alas an exceptional case.

The reality is that most future school funding is now a heavy burden on Midlothian, with sharply reduced predicted Scottish Government capital support across the school estate – primary and secondary – compared with a decade ago.

Then we could expect 70 per cent or so to come for the new campus schools. Now a mere £30m is predicted for £200m of new builds.

Thanks to a steep increase in birth rate a huge £70m plus deficit has opened up in the capital reserve for Midlothian. It’s a further sign that, despite the rhetoric, the SNP do not understand the acute strain that Midlothian faces, being the fastest growing county in Scotland.

A 40 per cent uplift in the next decade in population actually means, due to demographics, a near doubling of the school population. But Holyrood prefers to give special support to shrinking councils, often in nationalist areas.

Westminster, far from being a problem, continues to support Scotland through the generous Barnett formula, with over 12 per cent more spending per capita than the rest of the UK, plus recent further top ups as our successful economy under the Conservatives allows fiscal relaxation.

An independent Scotland would mean massive cuts to public spending according to all serious commentators but the make-believe economics of the nationalist mindset is closed to the laws of cause and effect. No UK support equals even more and painful cuts than we already have from the anti-enterprise, anti-property, pro-state interventionist Nationalists.

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