Friday 12 September 2008

The difference between fact and untruth

I was somewhat surprised to see Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale (full title: Leader of Labour Bloggers in Scotland) repeating the tale told in The Sun about the Scottish Futures Trust without checking its veracity.

In short, the story goes that the Scottish Futures Trust will have a payroll of £14 million. Considering that the story says that the Trust will have 7 staff, that seems like a rather large payroll, so where did the story come from?

From the Lib Dems. In his new role as Lib Dem Shadow on Finance, Jeremy Purvis MSP made the claim when he questioned John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth after John's statement on the Scottish Futures Trust.

In his questions, the wee man asked
Why is there no mention in the statement of the new body's payroll costs—as they were established in the business case—which alone come to £14.5 million out of
an entire budget of £17.4 million?

John Swinney referred JP back to the Business Case. You'll see (paragraph 7.6) that the payroll costs are over 5 years, that the initial staffing will be 6 or 7, and that the staff numbers will be ramped up rapidly to around 20 and the staff costs include the costs of employing staff - a different story.

Mr Purvis is quoted in the story as saying that he doesn't know what the SFT is expected to do that the Government is not already doing. Perhaps, giving his elevated position, he should pay more attention? This tale he has been dreaming, one of misdirection and pale imitations of the truth, is a very poor start to his new position but I expected nothing better of him.

Kezia, though - what a disappointment! We should hope for better from Labour's leaders in Scotland. I understand that there is strong competition for the annual awards at the Scottish Political Journalists' Association ...

For ease of reference, Paragraph 7.6 is below:

The implementation of SFT has always been regarded as a development path (as explained in Chapter 9). In the short term a series of steps require to be gone through to establish SFT (as envisaged above), in the longer term SFT may have wider opportunities as a result of legislative or constitutional changes that lead to a change in shape or direction.
As the activities of SFT will ramp-up over time it is envisaged at the outset it will have a small headcount and that its staffing will increase over time. Initially it is assumed it has 6/7 staff, including support staff, by 2011 it is assumed it has around 20 employees, including support staff. These estimates provide a range of possible
The working assumption is that SFT Development and Delivery will be established as quickly as possible and that SFT Finance will be established and operational by 2010-11, therefore the bulk of start-up costs land in 2009-10, these being primarily advisory and recruitment costs.
As for many other organisations , payroll will be the main recurring cost for SFT. This has been estimated over a 5 year horizon in order to provide some quantum for this SBC, but this must be regarded as indicative pending more detailed business planning.
The staffing levels suggested would support core SFT activities, however should SFT undertake significant assignments, such as becoming a programme developer in a particular sector, then additional dedicated staff (or advisory support) would likely be required. SFT resourcing beyond core levels would be justified through normal business planning and approvals.

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Chris said...
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