We pay the price for PFI going wrong

Crystal ball
Crystal ball
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It was interesting to read the recent letter by Eamonn Ward regarding PFI.

This was one of the options offered when changes to council house funding were being considered.

However, you didn’t need to possess a crystal ball in order to foresee the consequences of such a move.

Indeed the clock is already ticking for those having entered into controversial PFI agreements.

Over time, billions of pounds have been transferred from public to private hands and some local authorities heavily burdened with ever-increasing interest rates on contracts stretching over decades.

According to The Independent (3.4.16) PFI will cost taxpayers £209 billion over the next 35 years.

By the time the contracts have all been paid off (2049/50) it’s claimed they will have cost £307 billion.

In excess of five times more than the £57 billion the assets are actually worth. (Treasury figures March 2016).

It seems self-certification and records of performance paved the way for possible misuse of funds. Mired in controversy, some privately run ‘back to work’ schemes have already faced accusations of fraud while the taxpayer helped some involved amass personal fortunes despite their business being almost entirely reliant on government funding and failing to reach set targets.

Numerous examples of PFI disasters exist and the NHS is prime. According to The Guardian its debt in 2001/2 was £192 million, by 2005/6 it grew to £542 million. Repayments don’t peak until 2029/39 when they are set to hit £2.71 billion per year.

The whole privatisation agenda is hidden beneath a cloak of secrecy but who pays the price when things go wrong?

None other than the public who, despite ultimately funding these ventures, are penalised in the name of austerity when government debt becomes too large.

Chair of Parliament’s Public Spending Watchdog, MP Margaret Hodge explains the process as follows: ‘PFI – privatising the profits, nationalising the debt’.

Mary Steele

Deerlands Avenue, Parson Cross, Sheffield, S5