PFI in the Eye
“PERHAPS MPs on the Treasury select committee thumbed old copies of the Eye as they wrote their report on the private finance initiative. More than seven years ago the late Paul Foot concluded his special PFEye report (Eye 1102): "What is already clear is the awful legacy that PFI has left behind. Is it cheaper for the taxpayer? No it is not..."
As Paul also wrote: “Has it ‘saved’ public spending? Only by skilful manipulation of what a former Labour frontbencher warned would be ‘financial sleight of hand’ and ‘deceit’.” Now parliament has finally caught up with Footie, committee chairman Andrew Tyrie prefacing a forensic demolition with the comments: “PFI means getting something now and paying later… We can’t carry on as we are, expecting the next generation of taxpayers to pick up the tab.”
THE GREAT PF-LIE
“PARLIAMENT’s Treasury select committee has done what the Eye has been calling on the National Audit Office to do for many years and finally taken a hard look at the scheme under which successive governments – principally the last Labour government – have foisted billions of pounds of debt on to future generations.
The committee found PFI wanting on every level: it is not value for money and currently costs twice as much to finance as conventional procurement; calculations are fiddled to favour it; government accounting for debt and departmental spending gives a perverse incentive to pursue PFI; and the benefits claimed by a vocal industry – cheaper, more timely construction, etc – are entirely illusory.”
“Having put his knife into the scheme, Tyrie had emollient words for those who have signed such deals over the years: “PFI means getting something now and paying later. Any Whitehall department could be excused for becoming addicted to that.” No word as to whether chancellors shafting future generations with bone-headed but politically appealing promises should be similarly exculpated. Private Eye 1/9/11
And which Chancellor took the tory idea and ran with it? And who then kept them off the nation’s balance sheet? And who had a reputation for 'prudence'?
Why it was that nice Mr Brown who has been in the news such a lot lately.
And which Chancellor said that he would curb the use of PFI schemes before the last election and has since reneged on that promise and is following in Mr Brown’s footsteps?
Why it is that ex Bullingdon toff Mr Osborne.