A HOST of organisations are calling on Keith Brown to establish a publicly-owned infrastructure company to allow schools, hospitals and roads to be built and funded in the wake of the collapse of the private outsourcing giant Carillion.

An open letter signed by trade unions, social justice campaign groups, architects’ associations and politicians has been sent to the Scottish Economy Secretary ahead of the SNP conference which starts tomorrow.

READ MORE: Full letter to Keith Brown calling for a Scottish National Infrastructure Company

The creation of a Scottish National Infrastructure Company (SNIC) is among the debates on the agenda for the two-day event in Aberdeen.

The letter states: “The collapse of Carillion has exposed just how much risk the public faces because of the way we outsource infrastructure-building and service delivery.

“With a focus on private profit instead of the public good, the way we currently finance and build infrastructure is putting jobs and construction projects at risk.”

It adds: “The failings of Public-Finance Initiatives (PFI) and other Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) have been exposed by poor construction quality (such as collapsing school buildings) and a huge cost to the taxpayers in repayments to PPP consortiums worth up to five or six times the value of the asset.

“Payments for privately-financed projects will have cost Scotland about £40 billion by the time the current contracts are completed in 2040. If the SNIC model, financed by a Scottish National Investment Bank had been adopted instead, Scotland could have saved up to £26 billion.”

The SNIC would replace Public-Private Partnerships with ‘Public-Public Partnerships’ it would find and package the finance, and work with public bodies to create the best possible infrastructure for the best possible value to the public.

There would also be a renewed focus on the transparency of public procurement and a commitment to the values of fair work.

The letter has been organised by the pro-independence Common Weal think tank and has been signed by organisations, including representatives of the Scottish Trade Union Congress, Unison Scotland, Unite the Union, Scotland Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA union), Global Justice Now, Radical Independence and Young Scots for Independence.

Malcolm Fraser, member of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, told The National: “The virtues of public borrowing leading national investment are clear: cheaper borrowing costs and direct accountability and control, with – it should be expected – a shift away from legalistic complexity and obscure financial instruments which maximise consultancy fees and shareholder profit, towards a focus on utility – providing a good product.”