Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Government Business
Last November, I announced the Welsh Government’s intention to deliver £500 million investment in the next phase of the 21st Century Schools Programme, using the Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) model. This next phase of investment, which is in addition to the £170m of innovative funding through the Local Government Borrowing Initiative, will commence once the current programme finishes in 2018-19.
The 21st Century School Programme is designed to deliver the Welsh Government’s vision of providing a first-class education in world class settings to all learners in Wales and we are already making good progress with preparations for this second phase of investment, including close engagement with Local Authorities, the WLGA, and Constructing Excellence in Wales. Furthermore, investment in the educational estate is a key priority in the Wales Infrastructure Investment Plan (WIIP), and the new funding I have committed to will help ensure that we are able to sustain a consistent and appropriate level of investment in these vital assets over the longer term.
Earlier this year, the Welsh Government also undertook work with the European Investment Bank’s European PPP Expertise Centre (EPEC) to identify options for the design and delivery of the Programme. EPEC drew on best practice from across Europe to produce a number of conclusions that will be used to inform Programme’s business case. In addition, I have continued to promote the opportunity that the new Programme provides to attract European Investment Bank finance to Wales. My dialogue on this point with the European Investment Bank Vice President, Jonathan Taylor, will continue in parallel with the development of the Programme.
As we move into the next stage of development, it is vital that we ensure we have the capacity and capability in place to deliver our ambitious Programme. I am pleased that the Welsh Government has been able to secure additional expert resource to support Programme development work. Officials are working closely with their counterparts in Scottish Futures Trust, Infrastructure UK and Local Partnerships, bringing together skilled professionals with a wealth of knowledge and experience of using innovative finance models in the education sector. This collaboration will help to ensure that the investment we make through the 21st Century Schools NPD Programme offers value for money and improves educational outcomes in Wales. In this regard, the Programme will also continue to be subject to the Welsh Government’s Better Business Cases approach, which is a collaborative cross-government process developed to maximise the benefits that can be achieved from investment.