Margaret Cuthbert


Margaret CuthbertMargaret Cuthbert has lectured in economics at several Scottish universities, but spent most of her career as an economics and business consultant. Her major area of research has been public expenditure in Scotland. She edited and contributed to Public Expenditure in Scotland, one of the few economics texts on Scotland written in the period after the first Devolution referendum. Specific interests include improvement of the data and analysis relating to government expenditure and revenues in Scotland, critiques of the private finance initiative, the analysis of devolved and reserved spending, and research into the basis of the costings of the policy of free care for the elderly.

Papers Published in World Economics:

How to Have Your Cake and Eat It

This article is about how the capital assets in private finance initiative (PFI) schemes are treated in government accounts. The article begins by describing how public sector obligations in relation to the capital assets of PFI schemes are accounted for in the national accounts, and also, using different accounting standards, in departmental accounts. The article then considers the implications of information obtained using Freedom of Information on the way a sample of PFI schemes actually behave in practice. Analysis of this data suggests that the methods used in the national accounts, and in departmental accounts, seriously underestimate the true scale of PFI obligations. The data also indicates potential weaknesses with the risk-based test for assessing whether a PFI asset should come onto the public sector’s books in the national accounts – with the implication that many more PFI schemes should be brought on-book in the national accounts.

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