By Marcus Leach

The Treasury Select Committee today (Friday) released their report on Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funding, claiming it does not offer the taxpayer good value for money.

This is a view supported by UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis, who believes the initiative should be scrapped altogether.

“The Committee have confirmed what we know is true - PFI is a waste of cash. Government incentives and short-term gain are being put before the long-term pain," Prentis said.

“PFI is a huge burden on the public sector and has cost taxpayers billions over the odds. The huge PFI debts hospitals have run up have played a major part in the cuts being made to staff and treatments.

“Despite criticising PFI in opposition, the Tories pushed for it in power, signing off many new projects. Money that should be re-invested in providing better services goes straight into the profits of greedy business.

“The Government must listen to the facts and finally ditch PFI.”

However, Chris Cummings, CEO of TheCityUK, is in favour of the PFIs, stating that they are a means of providing infrastructure investment.

“PFI represents a valuable way of providing infrastructure investment and public service improvement," Cummings said.

"At a time when the public finance are constrained more than ever before, it is completely appropriate to look to Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to achieve some of our public sector goals. Changes to the PFI accounting should not be a reason to discredit it as a procurement method.

"It enables private sector financing and project expertise to be brought to bear which demonstrably helps ensure projects come in on time and on budget.

“Nearly one thousand PPP infrastructure projects have been approved in the UK and there are many examples where this initiative has provided valuable funding to enable projects that make an important contribution to our society.

"As a pioneer in this field, the UK has internationally acknowledged expertise in this area. Over 100 nations are now looking to devise PPP systems based on UK best practice and these skills are proving to be of tremendous benefit in markets such as the GCC, which are embarking on massive infrastructural programmes.”

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