Gavin Williamson: Schools project will not repeat Labour ‘mistakes’

Monday, June 29, 2020

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has denied that the government’s plan to rebuild and refurbish schools will see the return of Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs).

Speaking with talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, the Cabinet minister said: “We’re not going to make the same mistakes that Labour made where they were paying over the odds for schools, paying over the odds for private finance.

“This is going to be about building brilliant schools across communities right across England and really being transformative for local communities.”

PFIs are a way of funding public sector projects through private sector investors and were championed by Tony Blair during his time in office.

They are paid for upfront by investors and the government repays the debt in annual charges.

Boris Johnson’s £1 billion schools project will adopt a 10-year approach. It is part of an infrastructure spending spree to revitalise the UK economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking on Times Radio, the Prime Minister said: “This is the time to invest in infrastructure, this is the time to make those long-term decisions for the good of the country.”

Labour has said the scheme would need to reverse a “lost decade” of stagnant investment in many parts of the country.

The party claimed all regions had seen a decrease in both health and education investment per person since David Cameron became prime minister in 2010.

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