Has the cabinet secretary asked representatives of the Scottish Futures Trust what they are doing, bearing in mind the amount of resources that they are consuming? I understood that 14 new schools were to be brought forward but, as far as I can see, no school has been commissioned so far and we are at the tendering stage for only two new secondary schools. There is no word on new primary schools. Will he bring us up to date on the progress of the SFT's work?
The Scottish Futures Trust is taking forward a range of projects, which include the schools development programme, the hub approach to public service provision, involvement in the Borders rail project, tax increment financing and a variety of other projects, including mental health projects in Tayside. The SFT is actively involved in all those programmes and is working with the Government to deliver improvements in value for money. Given Mr McNulty's long service with me on the Finance Committee over the years, I would have thought that he would have had an interest in the aspirations of the Government to deliver value for money in that respect.
I welcome the work of the SFT and the Scottish Government to establish the national housing trust, in which 10 councils, including the City of Edinburgh Council, have expressed an interest. I hope that the approach will allow Edinburgh to expand its social housing programme, after years of inaction by the previous, Labour Administration. Will the cabinet secretary tell us about the scale of the financial benefit that there will be for the construction sector? Will he also say how many homes he hopes will be created for Scotland?
Shirley-Anne Somerville has identified another project in which the Scottish Futures Trust is involved, which I did not mention in the list that I gave to Mr McNulty. The financing model of the national housing trust is expected to leverage in approximately £140 million of external funding, to provide up to 2,000 mid-market homes, which will initially be available for rent. That is a positive contribution to tackling the significant challenge in relation to affordable housing in Scotland
I met the chief executive of the SFT in the Borders to discuss the hub initiative and to discuss concerns, which have been expressed locally, that there will be no opportunity for construction companies in the Borders to bid for works in relation to NHS Borders health centre developments. I did not receive a satisfactory reply. Can the cabinet secretary confirm that, if there are health centre developments in the Borders under the hub Co initiative, local construction firms will be able to bid for works?
As Mr Purvis knows, we must ensure that the procurement of public infrastructure is compliant with the requirements of the European Union in that respect. All our procurement activity is structured in that fashion and the approach that is taken to work in the Borders in relation to the hub project will be no different from the approach that is taken to all Government contracts.