Privately-run prison to cost more than £1bn over duration of contract

Colin McConnell

A privately-run prison is due to rack up a bill of £1 billion to the taxpayer, 12 times its building costs.

HMP Addiewell, in West Lothian, was finished a decade ago under the private finance initiative (PFI) model. Details of its costs were revealed at Holyrood following a question from Fulton MacGregor MSP.

According to Colin McConnell, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, the estimated cost of the 25-year contract with Sodexo Justice Services would be in the region of £995 million – a deal made under the Labour and Liberal Democrat government.

Mr MacGregor said: “This is an absolutely staggering revelation, showing the sheer incompetence and damaging legacy of the Labour and Lib Dem executive.

“The PFI contract for Addiewell prison was always a bad deal for the public purse, but the latest estimates revealing a bill of nearly £1bn for an £80m building will leave taxpayers paying way over the score for years to come.”

The news has brought the PFI, or PPP, model under renewed scrutiny.

Head of policy and public affairs at Unison Scotland, David Watson, said there should be an inquiry into all public-private partnership deals.

Under such schemes, contractors pay for the build before renting it out to the public sector for periods of up to three decades.

However, the SNP established a scheme that limits the profits private firms can make after it came to power – abandoning PFI.

The total cost of such initiatives is set to rise to more than £36bn.

Scottish Greens justice spokesman John Finnie MSP said: “PFI has been an unmitigated disaster and one which those two former governing parties should apologise for.”

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