SCHOOLS across Scotland are being “swindled” out of hundreds of millions of pounds by the toxic legacy of PFI contracts entered into a decade ago, it has been claimed.

Research shows councils will shell out nearly 10 per cent of their schools budgets servicing debt related to Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes this year.

PFI deals were used to build hundreds of new schools under Labour in Scotland, by contracting the work out to private firms.

But new figures highlighted by the SNP show councils will spend more than £430 million this year paying off debt associated with constructing schools under the schemes.

The party said this amounted to a significant amount of Scottish schools’ total resource budget of £5.159 billion, and slammed the “shameful legacy” of Labour’s years in power at Holyrood.

In 2016/17, total PFI repayments cost Scotland over £1 billion.

SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald said: “Labour’s toxic PFI legacy means the public purse is still paying heavily over the odds servicing their decade-old debts.

“They ought to apologise for their mistakes – which will cost our schools £434.3 million this year alone, nearly ten percent of the entire schools budget.

“Money that councils could use to pay for teachers, books and facilities is being used by councils forced to pay for Labour’s mistakes.”

PFI deals have come under the spotlight in recent years following the shock closure of 17 schools in Edinburgh after a wall collapsed at a primary school.

But Scottish Labour hit out at the “breath-taking hypocrisy” of the SNP, which scrapped the PFI system in 2007 and replaced it with a “non-profit distributing” (NPD) funding model.

The party’s economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie MSP said: "Despite campaigning for years to abolish PFI, the SNP simply renamed it. In fact, under the SNP there is now more involvement from the private sector than ever before and the cap on their profits has been removed.

"Labour has repeatedly called for a wholesale review of public procurement in Scotland - but the SNP joined forces with the Tories to block it. That is shameful.

"While SNP MSPs polish their brass necks, Labour will come up with the ideas necessary to protect workers and to ensure that taxpayers' money isn't going to line the pockets of shareholders."